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Bull World Health Organ. 1999; 77(1): 15–21.
PMCID: PMC2557566

Diagnosing anaemia in pregnancy in rural clinics: assessing the potential of the Haemoglobin Colour Scale.

Abstract

Anaemia in pregnancy is a common and severe problem in many developing countries. Because of lack of resources and staff motivation, screening for anaemia is often solely by clinical examination of the conjunctiva or is not carried out at all. A new colour scale for the estimation of haemoglobin concentration has been developed by WHO. The present study compares the results obtained using the new colour scale on 729 women visiting rural antenatal clinics in Malawi with those obtained by HemoCue haemoglobinometer and electronic Coulter Counter and with the assessment of anaemia by clinical examination of the conjunctiva. Sensitivity using the colour scale was consistently better than for conjunctival inspection alone and interobserver agreement and agreement with Coulter Counter measurements was good. The Haemoglobin Colour Scale is simple to use, well accepted, cheap and gives immediate results. It shows considerable potential for use in screening for anaemia in antenatal clinics in settings where resources are limited.

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