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PerkinElmer, American Society of Hematology Collaborate on Sickle Cell Disease Screening in Africa

NEW YORK – PerkinElmer said on Thursday it is collaborating with the American Society of Hematology to support a new initiative to increase capacity for newborn screening, education, and clinical interventions for sickle cell disease in sub-Saharan Africa.

PerkinElmer and ASH will work through the Consortium on Newborn Screening in Africa (CONSA), a collaboration with hematologists in Africa, public health authorities, and ASH, which studies the benefits of newborn screening and early therapeutic intervention for sickle cell disease.

A PerkinElmer spokesman said in an email that the company will donate to each country that is new to CONSA two full laboratory set-ups for sickle cell screening. The Waltham, Massachusetts-based company will also provide training and education to implement screening programs.

To date, PerkinElmer and ASH have provided training in Midrand, South Africa for the implementation of CONSA programs in Zambia, Tanzania, Ghana, and Liberia, he said, adding the company also conducted training in Nigeria to "complete the kickoff of the CONSA group."

The firm noted that about 120 million people worldwide have sickle cell disease, with about two-thirds of them residing in Africa. Though prevalent in many high-income countries, universal screening for sickle cell disease is not conducted in most parts of Africa, and a majority of children with the disease on the continent die before the age of 5.

CONSA plans to screen between 10,000 and 20,000 newborns each year in each sub-Saharan country and provide clinical follow-up for babies who screen positive for the disease.