Sickle cell disease (SCD), one of the most common monogenetic disorders worldwide, predominantly affects people of African, Indian, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern descent. By altering red cell morphology and function, leading to anemia and endothelial damage, SCD causes acute and chronic multisystem complications with significant increase in morbidity and mortality. Low and middle-income countries (LMICs) shoulder the heaviest disease burden worldwide but lack the clinical and laboratory resources to optimally diagnose and treat the disease. This has created a wide disparity in disease outcomes for patients who live in high-income countries (HICs) compared with LMICs.  Even in HICs, scientific advancements to find effective treatments for SCD have been slow. Recently, new momentum has been generated through an increase in both public and private sector investments to fund research and new drug developments. Further innovations are needed to develop technologies and approaches that are simple, low cost and implementable to scale in order to bridge the diagnostic and treatment gaps that contribute to the disparities. Global and multi-sectorial partnerships are helping to catalyze efforts to find global solutions for SCD.

Dr. Isaac Odame