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Tanzan J Health Res. 2008 Jan;10(1):9-13.

Prevalence of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency and haemoglobin S in high and moderate malaria transmission areas of Muheza, north-eastern Tanzania.

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  • 1National Institute for Medical Research, Tanga Medical Research Centre, P.O. Box 5004, Tanga, Tanzania. msegeja@tanga.mimcom.net


Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency and haemoglobin S (HbS) are very common genetic disorders in sub Saharan Africa, where malaria is endemic. These genetic disorders have been associated with protection against malaria and are therefore under strong selection pressure by the disease. In November-December 2003, we conducted a cross-sectional survey to determine the prevalence of G6PD deficiency and HbS in the population and relate these to malaria infection and haemoglobin levels in lowland and highland areas of differing malaria transmission patterns of Muheza, Tanzania. Blood samples from 1959 individuals aged 6 months to 45 years were collected. A total of 415 (21%) and 1181 (60%) samples were analysed for G6PD deficiency and HbS, respectively. Malarial parasite prevalence was 17.2% (114/1959) in the highlands and 39.6% (49/1959) in the lowlands. Lowlands had higher prevalence of G6PD deficiency and HbS than highlands (G6PD deficiency = 11.32% (24/212) versus 4.43% (9/203), P = 0.01, and HbS = 16.04% (98/611) versus 6.32% (36/570), P = 0.0001). Logistic regression model showed an association between G6PD deficiency and altitude [lowlands] (Odds ratio [OR] 3.4, 95% CI = 1.49; 7.90, P = 0.004). In the lowlands, G6PD deficient individuals had lower mean haemoglobin (10.9g/dl) than normal ones (12.8g/dl), P = 0.01. These findings show that high malaria transmission in the lowlands might have selected for G6PD deficiency and HbS.

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