A committee of doctors and specialists from the Angolan Ministry of Health is this week holding a series of visits and meetings in Brasília, Belo Horizonte and Salvador. The proposal is to resume the bilateral cooperation with the country, especially in the area of blood and blood products. The African country faces a serious public health problem: sickle cell anemia.
By 2020, there were 11,540 registered cases of the disease. The official estimate is that almost 2% of live births in Angola have this type of hemoglobinopathy. The rate of people with the so-called sickle cell trait, a genetic mutation in which the disease does not manifest itself but can be passed on to their children, is almost 20% in the country.
The delegation’s technical visit to Brazil includes a videoconference to present a distance-learning course on the guthrie test to detect sickle cell anemia. The action involves neonatal screening technicians from the Brazilian Ministry of Health and professors from the Federal University of Paraná. The proposal is to implement a national sickle cell disease policy in Angola.
“We have chosen Brazil because it is a reference in Latin America and worldwide in the approach to people with sickle cell disease”, explained Francisco Domingos, director of the Angolan Hematology Institute and head of the mission in Brazil.
“We have started, by pilot project, to implement Brazil’s experience with the guthrie test. We are not going to do it like Brazil does, with [tests for] several diseases. We will start [only] with sickle cell anemia.
The cooperation, according to Domingos, also foresees projects to qualify blood donation in Angola, since donations in the country only happen among family members. Angola currently processes about 80 bags of blood per day, totaling 150,000 per year, but only 20% comes from volunteers. The idea is to use the Brazilian experience in attracting volunteers to expand and qualify the process in Angola.