An estimated 8,000 to 11,000 children are reportedly born with sickle cell anaemia in the country annually, a don and expert in the disease has said, ranking the country fourth in the world with the highest number of cases in live births each year.
Nigeria tops the list, followed by India and the DR Congo.
Dr Edward Kija, a Paediatrician and Lecturer at Muhimbili University and Health and Allied Sciences (Muhas)gave the figures when briefing journalists on the Third Symposium of Sickle cell Disease Research Network of Central Africa which commences today in Dar es Salaam.
The two-day scientific forum will be attended by 200 scientists from East and Central Africa, who are researching on the disease.
He said if the children born with sickle cell anaemia were not provided with 90 per cent comprehensive care they die within two years of birth. “This tragedy is preventable by simple measures that include identification of affected individuals and providing comprehensive care,” said the don.
Dr Kija said there have been many advances in medicines and improved knowledge in the management of the disease that can be implemented in the country to reduce mortality as well as improve the quality of life of people with sickle cell.
He said the government has recognised the public health burden of sickle cell disease and has included it as priority condition in the national strategy for non-communicable diseases.
He said the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare intends to introduce newborn screening to strengthen sickle cell services in health facilities at primary, secondary and tertiary levels.
The country has also established a world recognised biomedical research programme to find interventions that are locally appropriate and have global significance, he said.