Anemia is a significant problem in many parts of the world. It’s particularly problematic in developing countries where infections and diseases are common. These add up to create a major burden on well-being, on quality of life, and even on the economies of entire countries. In women of reproductive age, the risk of anemia is substantial: if their condition is not detected and addressed effectively the risk of the problem being transferred to their children is high, which will have serious consequences for both physical and cognitive development. This feeds the never-ending inter-generational cycle of anemia. But – and this is a big but – the problem is avoidable. The first step in taking action against anemia is to become aware of the problem, and find out just how serious it is.
There are several causes of anemia; however, approximately half of the world’s anemia burden is due to iron deficiency. This can be caused by insufficient iron in the diet, and/or increased needs such as for menstruating or pregnant women or children with high growth rate. With a clear picture of the iron status in a population it’s possible to choose the right interventions, and use the right indicators to monitor their impact. There are, in fact, several anemia control programs around the world, which show that the prevalence of anemia can be reduced successfully through recurrent monitoring.
According to the WHO, the concentration of hemoglobin is the primary measure of anemia, and to measure it, accurate methods that give reproducible results should be used. For someone like me, who’s worked in blood analysis, and particularly hemoglobin analysis, for over 20 years, this is self-evident and something that no one could possibly argue against. Unfortunately, in reality this doesn’t happen. A variety of different methods are used worldwide to estimate the concentration of hemoglobin, and I’m afraid that many of them aren’t as accurate as you’d wish.
Why is this, when good methods already exist? One reason is that the problem of anemia is without a doubt greatest in developing countries, where laboratory facilities are not always available. Transporting blood samples from remote areas to hospitals is often difficult, and may not even be possible. Especially not in the case of big intervention programs where we are not talking about one or two blood samples – but thousands or even millions! Consequently, when designing practical and effective intervention programs, methods for screening and monitoring of hemoglobin levels should be done using reliable methods suitable for field conditions.
In 2012 the WHO member states endorsed global targets for improving maternal, infant, and young child nutrition and are committed to monitoring progress. One of these targets states that by 2025 anemia should be reduced by 50 % in women of reproductive age. To meet this target the availability of accurate and cost-effective methods to measure hemoglobin levels is vital.
The webinar “Efficient Screening Tools – Key to Combat Anemia” addresses the importance of accurate and suitable methods for anemia screening. You will learn about different methods for hemoglobin measurement available today, their advantages or disadvantages, and issues to pay extra attention to. You will also hear about examples of programs that have successfully reduced the prevalence of anemia by thorough screening, well-planned and well-implemented intervention, and accurate monitoring.
The webinar will also be available on demand.
We look forward to your registration!
Clinical & Scientific Affairs Manager, HemoCue AB