The challenge of haemoglobinopathies in resource-poor countries.
The haemoglobinopathies, inherited disorders of the structure or synthesis of haemoglobin, are the commonest monogenic diseases. Approximately 80% of the annual births of babies with these conditions occur in low-or middle-income countries, many of which have extremely limited facilities for their control and management. Given that the population size of many of them is growing and, as social and public health facilities improve, increasing numbers of these babies will survive to present for diagnosis and treatment. Hence, the haemoglobinopathies will constitute an increasing global health burden. Hitherto, they have been largely ignored by governments of high-frequency countries and by the international health agencies. However, a start has been made in developing control programmes in some low-income countries and there is already considerable evidence that much can be done to improve the situation by the development of partnerships between groups in richer countries and centres in low-income countries. The natural extension of this approach is the further development of partnerships between countries where expertise in this field has been developed and adjacent countries where no such expertise exists. It is vital that the haematology community of the richer countries becomes involved in programmes of this type while, at the same time, putting pressure on their governments and on international health agencies for support for this work.