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Bull World Health Organ. 2008 Jun;86(6):480-7.

Global epidemiology of haemoglobin disorders and derived service indicators.

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WHO Collaborating Centre for Community Control of Hereditary Disorders, UCL Centre for Health Informatics and Multiprofessional Education (CHIME), Archway Campus, Highgate Hill, London N195LW, England.


To demonstrate a method for using genetic epidemiological data to assess the needs for equitable and cost-effective services for the treatment and prevention of haemoglobin disorders. We obtained data on demographics and prevalence of gene variants responsible for haemoglobin disorders from online databases, reference resources, and published articles. A global epidemiological database for haemoglobin disorders by country was established, including five practical service indicators to express the needs for care (indicator 1) and prevention (indicators 2-5). Haemoglobin disorders present a significant health problem in 71% of 229 countries, and these 71% of countries include 89% of all births worldwide. Over 330,000 affected infants are born annually (83% sickle cell disorders, 17% thalassaemias). Haemoglobin disorders account for about 3.4% of deaths in children less than 5 years of age. Globally, around 7% of pregnant women carry b or a zero thalassaemia, or haemoglobin S, C, D Punjab or E, and over 1% of couples are at risk. Carriers and at-risk couples should be informed of their risk and the options for reducing it. Screening for haemoglobin disorders should form part of basic health services in most countries.

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