September 20, 2019

INTERREG CARES to support early detection and treatment of sickle cell disease in OECS countries

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Tuesday, August 6, 2019 — Babies being born in Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda will benefit from support for testing at birth for sickle cell disease. The neonatal screening of sickle cell disease forms part of the INTERREG CARES project, which aims to facilitate stronger collaboration in the health sector between the Eastern Caribbean and the French Associate Members of the OECS, namely Martinique and Guadeloupe.

A delegation of medical experts from the CAREST Network (CAribbean network of REsearchers on Sickle cell disease and Thalassemia) and the University Hospital of Guadeloupe recently completed two technical missions in Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda. These missions enabled partners of the project to discuss the advancement of one of the main components of INTERREG CARES – the improvement of screening and treatment of sickle cell disease in the OECS Member States.

Technical mission in Grenada. From left to right: neonatal medicine specialist Dr. Josan Brathwaite, Dr. Darville Raye and Dr. Tyhiesia Donald, both pediatricians.

Representatives of both Guadeloupean entities met with the English-speaking partners of the project, including health professionals (pediatricians, nurses, midwives, obstetricians), sickle cell associations and representatives of the Ministries of Health in Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda.
 

Major objectives achieved include:

  • providing the technical capacities to enable practitioners to perform the extraction of samples on newborns in Grenada;
  • defining the methods of transportation of these samples to the University Hospital of Guadeloupe as well as the transmission of the results of the analysis to clinicians in Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda; and
  • ensuring the continuity of the screening of sickle cell disease after the closure of  INTERREG CARES scheduled for December 2020.
Dr. Ketty Lee, Head of the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics, Hospital Practitioner Marie Petras, Marie-Dominique Hardy-Dessources, Researcher at the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM), Senior Research Scientist (CRHC) and President of the CAREST network

Sickle cell disease is the most common genetic disease in the world and in the Caribbean in particular. Thanks to this project, the screening of newborns can be pursued by rapid tests made available in health facilities in Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda. Indeed, early detection of sickle cell disease combined with appropriate medical care can improve the quality of life and the life expectancy of the patients. ” President of CAREST Network Marie-Dominique Hardy-Dessources.

Health professionals in Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda have expressed their full support for the testing of newborn babies for sickle cell disease.
 

This project has rejuvenated our screening program and rekindled our management of sickle cell patients, and our emphasis on sickle cell disease which is important in our population. Chief Medical Officer of Grenada Dr. George Mitchell.

Experts from both OECS countries will also benefit from training to facilitate the use of the tests, the performance of transcranial Doppler ultrasound and the detection of the risk of cardiovascular accidents of children with sickle cell disease. 

About the INTERREG CARES project (Cooperation, Accessibility, Referrals, E-information System)

INTERREG CARES (Cooperation, Accessibility, Referrals, E-information System) is a € 5 million project led by the Regional Health Agency of Guadeloupe, Saint-Martin, Saint-Barthelemy. INTERREG CARES resulted from a close collaboration between OECS Member States (Saint Lucia, the Commonwealth of , Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda, the , , Montserrat) and public / private health organisations in Guadeloupe and Martinique, including:

  • the Regional Health Agencies of Guadeloupe, Saint-Martin, Saint-Barthelemy and Martinique;
  • the Hospital University Centers of Martinique and Guadeloupe;
  • Basse-Terre Hospital Center;
  • Maurice Selbonne Hospital Center;
  • GCS Caraïbes et Archipel;
  • Les Eaux Claires Clinical Center; and
  • CAREST Network.

     

The INTERREG CARES Project is co-financed by the INTERREG Caribbean programme under the European Regional Development Fund and the European Development Fund. 

About the INTERREG CARAÏBES Programme 2014-2020

INTERREG CARAÏBES 2014-2020 is a programme of the European Union led by the Regional Council of Guadeloupe which assumes the role of Managing Authority of the Programme. INTERREG enables the French and European territories of Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique and Saint-Martin, to undertake regional cooperation actions with their neighbours in the OECS and the Greater Caribbean, which encompass more than 35 countries from Mexico in the north to Venezuela in the South.  

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