New-born screening for SCD

New-born screening is a public health service done in order to test for a group of health disorders that aren’t otherwise found at birth in this case sickle cell disease (SCD).
With a simple blood test, healthcare workers can check for rare genetic, hormone-related, and metabolic conditions that can cause serious health problems.
Zambia recently launched it’s first SCD new-born screening in April,2021.

The purpose of SCD new-born screening is to offer the affected child timely and appropriate care such as penicillin

prophylaxis, vaccinations including pneumococcal vaccines, as well as teaching the mother to palpate the abdomen daily for sudden enlargement of the spleen or liver.

The SCD new-born screening programme is being integrated within the existing health platforms and programmes. In this case screening of children for Sickle cell disease will be conducted as they are being screened for HIV, are accessing under-five vaccinations services or any in or out-patient care services. All children less than 3 months old accessing health services at a health institution will be offered screening for

SCD. The rationale behind this strategy is that infants who are first identified as having SCD can be initiated on simple, proven, low cost interventions that have been reported to reduce morbidity and mortality in children with the disease.

Blood for screening of SCD is obtained from the heel of a new-born and spotted on the dry blood spot paper

(DBS), which is then tested by either IEF or HPLC

Alternatively, whole blood can be tested  by quantitative haemoglobin electrophoresis. Results of the test should be communicated to the parent/caregiver during the subsequent growth monitoring or vaccinations visits (Preferably within 4 weeks of testing). Once a positive result is communicated, the newly diagnosed child should be linked to long-term follow up care at your or referral institution.


  3. Final Copy of the Guiidelines for the Management of Sickle Cell Diseases in Zambia

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