On June 19th, 2022, Santé Sud hosted a medical conference on sickle cell illness in Nouakchott. The purpose of the event was to discuss everything including screening, prevention, and cooperation that should be undertaken to enhance the care of this disease.

The event, which aimed to promote a plan to combat sickle cell disease and brought on one platform high-level presentations from Mauritania and Mali, was backed by AFD and the administration of the Principality of Monaco and was held in collaboration with the Mauritanian Health ministry and the Association de Soutien aux Drépanocytaires en Mauritanie (ASDM).

In Mauritania, the reported prevalence of sickle cell anaemia is 13% of hemoglobinopathies, including 7% of carriers of sickle cell traits, as Mariam Wane, association president for supporting people with sickle cell disease in Mauritania (ASDM) described at the unveiling of the conference. “In Mauritania, the overall prevalence of sickle cell anaemia is 13% of hemoglobinopathies,”

Ms. Wane extended an invitation to the current administration of Mauritanians to take an active role in fighting against sickle cell disease. She suggested that the government establish a program to combat sickle cell disease and to provide care for those who are afflicted with the condition, similar to what has been done for patient populations with HIV/AIDS, diabetes, malaria, tobacco, and other conditions.

According to Marie José Moinier, President of Santé Sud, the symposia is being planned as part of a project that Santé Sud is now implementing in Mali and Mauritania, in partnership with sickle cell specialists, patient groups, and health officials in each country.

Ms. Moinier then remembered that the action of Santé Sud in Mauritania actually started in 2012 through the realization of an epidemiological study of hemoglobinopathies in women who were receiving prenatal counselling in Nouakchott, specifically in Sebkha and Teyarett. This survey was carried out in relation to the ASDM.

She went on to say that the financial support provided by Monaco through its International development Cooperation Division and the French Development Fund had made it possible for these initiatives to take place.

“Since 2018, the current regime of Mauritania has been proud to support an ambitious project that is the result of a partnership between the Health Ministry of Mauritania, ASDM, and Santé Sud.

The project’s goal is to develop prevention, access to diagnosis, and care through building capacity for healthcare professionals and stakeholders in civil society. In addition, collaborative efforts with Mali are a part of the current project,” according to Hawa Diop, who serves as the Country Coordinator of the Monaco Cooperation (Monaco).

During the meeting, a number of different papers were given. These papers included topics such as genetic counselling, complications, quick diagnostic test, and serious vaso-occlusive accidents.

According to Dr. Abdel Jellil Ould Cheikh Zein, a physician at the Bababé health facility, this is the primary reason for consultations in the Moughataa of Bababé. Dr. Dah, an anesthesiologist and the director of the Rosso hospital centre, pointed at a lack of awareness and screening as the cause of the problem.

Even in the most remote hamlet, it is possible to conduct specific consultations and a rapid diagnostic test; however, in order to do so, it is necessary to train all of those who work in the health system, particularly those who intervene in the health of the mother and child, according to Dr. Touré Boubacar, an expert physician working at the Center for Research and Fight against Sickle Cell Disease (CRLD) in Bamako.

In Mauritania, there is still a significant amount of work to be done in order to bring sickle cell illness out of the shadows.

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