Publications by authors named "Jane R Aceng"

9 Publications

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Operational analysis of the national sickle cell screening programme in the Republic of Uganda.

Afr J Lab Med 2021 12;10(1):1303. Epub 2021 Aug 12.

Division of Hematology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, United States.

Background: Sickle cell anaemia is a common global life-threatening haematological disorder. Most affected births occur in sub-Saharan Africa where children usually go undiagnosed and die early in life. Uganda's national sickle cell screening programme was developed in response to a 2014 sickle cell surveillance study that documented a high disease prevalence.

Objective: This study describes the temporal and financial aspects of Uganda's 2014-2019 sickle cell screening programme.

Methods: National sickle cell screening data from Uganda's Central Public Health Laboratories were used to calculate turn-around times (TATs) from sample collection to delivery, testing, and result reporting for blood samples collected from February 2014 to March 2019. The parameters affecting specific TATs were assessed. The exact programme expenditures were analysed to determine cost per test and per positive sickle cell disease case detected.

Results: A total of 278 651 samples were analysed. The median TAT from sample collection to laboratory receipt was 8 days (interquartile range [IQR]: 6-12), receipt to testing was 3 days (IQR: 1-7), and testing to result reporting was 6 days (IQR: 3-12). Altogether, the sample continuum averaged 16 days (IQR: 11-24). Lower level healthcare facilities were associated with longer sample delivery TATs. Calendar months (January and December) and larger sample volumes impacted testing and result reporting TATs. The cost per test was $4.46 (United States dollars [USD]) and $483.74 USD per positive case detected.

Conclusion: Uganda's sickle cell screening programme is efficient and cost-effective. Universal newborn screening is the best strategy for detecting sickle cell anaemia in Uganda.
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August 2021

Trends in sickle cell trait and disease screening in the Republic of Uganda, 2014-2019.

Trop Med Int Health 2021 01 14;26(1):23-32. Epub 2020 Dec 14.

Division of Hematology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH, USA.

Objective: Sickle cell disease is an important public health issue that is increasingly recognised as a substantial contributor to morbidity and early childhood mortality in sub-Saharan Africa. We aimed to provide information from large-scale, long-term sickle cell screening efforts in Africa.

Methods: We used nationally representative data from the centralised public health laboratory database in Uganda to examine epidemiological trends in sickle cell screening over a five-year period, comparing age and geographic adjustments to prevalence among different testing cohorts of children aged 0-24 months, and calculating screening coverage within high-burden districts.

Results: A total of 324 356 children aged 0-24 months were screened for sickle cell trait and disease from February 2014 to March 2019. A high national burden of sickle cell disease (0.9%) was confirmed among a cohort of samples co-tested with HIV. In the cohort of samples referred specifically for sickle cell testing, the overall prevalence of sickle cell disease was 9.7% and particularly elevated in high-burden districts where focused screening occurred. The majority of children were screened before age 4 months, but the sickle-specific cohort had a larger proportion of affected children tested between age 5-9 months, coincident with onset of disease signs and symptoms. Successful screening coverage of sickle cell disease births was achieved in several high-burden districts.

Conclusions: Examination and analysis of national sickle cell screening trends in Uganda documents the successes of focused screening strategies as an important step towards universal screening. With this evidence and increased healthcare provider knowledge, Uganda can optimise sickle cell diagnosis and management across the country.
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January 2021

Sickle cell screening in Uganda: High burden, human immunodeficiency virus comorbidity, and genetic modifiers.

Pediatr Blood Cancer 2019 08 16;66(8):e27807. Epub 2019 May 16.

Ministry of Health, Kampala, Uganda.

Background: The Uganda Sickle Surveillance Study provided evidence for a large sickle burden among HIV-exposed infants in Uganda. To date, however, no large scale screening program has been developed for Central or East Africa.

Methods: A 3-year targeted sickle cell screening project in Uganda was designed by the Ministry of Health to (1) determine sickle cell trait and disease prevalence within high-burden districts, (2) document the prevalence among HIV-exposed and nonexposed children, (3) confirm previously suggested HIV comorbidity, and (4) estimate the co-inheritance of known genetic modifiers of sickle cell disease.

Results: A total of 163 334 dried blood spot samples collected between April 2015 and March 2018 were analyzed, including 112 352 samples within the HIV Early Infant Diagnosis program. A high burden with >1% sickle cell disease was found within targeted East Central and Mid-Northern districts, in both HIV-exposed and nonexposed children. Based on crude birth-rate data, 236 905 sickle cell trait births and 16 695 sickle cell disease births will occur annually in Uganda. Compared to sickle cell disease without HIV, the odds ratio of having sickle cell disease plus HIV was 0.50 (95% confidence interval = 0.40-0.64, P < .0001). Alpha-thalassemia trait and G6PD deficiency were common with sickle cell disease, but with different geospatial distribution.

Conclusions: High sickle cell burden and potential HIV comorbidity are confirmed in Uganda. Genetic modifiers are common and likely influence laboratory and clinical phenotypes. These prospective data document that targeted sickle cell screening is feasible and effective in Uganda, and support development of district-level comprehensive care programs.
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August 2019

Nodding syndrome may be an autoimmune reaction to the parasitic worm .

Sci Transl Med 2017 02;9(377)

Section of Infections of the Nervous System, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.

Nodding syndrome is an epileptic disorder of unknown etiology that occurs in children in East Africa. There is an epidemiological association with , the parasitic worm that causes onchocerciasis (river blindness), but there is limited evidence that the parasite itself is neuroinvasive. We hypothesized that nodding syndrome may be an autoimmune-mediated disease. Using protein chip methodology, we detected autoantibodies to leiomodin-1 more abundantly in patients with nodding syndrome compared to unaffected controls from the same village. Leiomodin-1 autoantibodies were found in both the sera and cerebrospinal fluid of patients with nodding syndrome. Leiomodin-1 was found to be expressed in mature and developing human neurons in vitro and was localized in mouse brain to the CA3 region of the hippocampus, Purkinje cells in the cerebellum, and cortical neurons, structures that also appear to be affected in patients with nodding syndrome. Antibodies targeting leiomodin-1 were neurotoxic in vitro, and leiomodin-1 antibodies purified from patients with nodding syndrome were cross-reactive with antigens. This study provides initial evidence supporting the hypothesis that nodding syndrome is an autoimmune epileptic disorder caused by molecular mimicry with antigens and suggests that patients may benefit from immunomodulatory therapies.
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February 2017

Hemoglobin variants identified in the Uganda Sickle Surveillance Study.

Blood Adv 2016 Nov 22;1(1):93-100. Epub 2016 Nov 22.

Division of Hematology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH.

The Uganda Sickle Surveillance Study analyzed dried blood spots that were collected from almost 100 000 infants and young children from all 10 regions and 112 districts in the Republic of Uganda, with the primary objective of determining the prevalence of sickle cell trait and disease. An overall prevalence of 13.3% sickle cell trait and 0.7% sickle cell disease was recently reported. The isoelectric focusing electrophoresis technique coincidentally revealed numerous hemoglobin (Hb) variants (defined as an electrophoresis band that was not Hb A, Hb F, Hb S, or Hb C) with an overall country-wide prevalence of 0.5%, but with considerable geographic variability, being highest in the northwest regions and districts. To elucidate these Hb variants, the original isoelectric focusing (IEF) gels were reviewed to identify and locate the variant samples; corresponding dried blood spots were retrieved for further testing. Subsequent DNA-based investigation of 5 predominant isoelectric focusing patterns identified 2 α-globin variants (Hb Stanleyville II, Asn78Lys; Hb G-Pest, Asp74Asn), 1 β-globin variant (Hb O-Arab, Glu121Lys), and 2 fusion globin variants (Hb P-Nilotic, β31-δ50; Hb Kenya, γ81Leu-β86Ala). Compound heterozygotes containing an Hb variant plus Hb S were also identified, including both Hb S/O-Arab and HbS/Kenya. Regional differences in the types and prevalence of these hemoglobin variants likely reflect tribal ancestries and migration patterns. Algorithms are proposed to characterize these Hb variants, which will be helpful for emerging neonatal hemoglobinopathy screening programs that are under way in sub-Saharan Africa.
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November 2016

Is nodding syndrome an Onchocerca volvulus-induced neuroinflammatory disorder? Uganda's story of research in understanding the disease.

Int J Infect Dis 2016 Apr 14;45:112-7. Epub 2016 Mar 14.

Ministry of Health Headquarters, Kampala, Uganda.

Nodding syndrome is a devastating neurological disorder, mostly affecting children in eastern Africa. An estimated 10000 children are affected. Uganda, one of the most affected countries, set out to systematically investigate the disease and develop interventions for it. On December 21, 2015, the Ministry of Health held a meeting with community leaders from the affected areas to disseminate the results of the investigations made to date. This article summarizes the presentation and shares the story of studies into this peculiar disease. It also shares the results of preliminary studies on its pathogenesis and puts into perspective an upcoming treatment intervention. Clinical and electrophysiological studies have demonstrated nodding syndrome to be a complex epilepsy disorder. A definitive aetiological agent has not been established, but in agreement with other affected countries, a consistent epidemiological association has been demonstrated with infection by Onchocerca volvulus. Preliminary studies of its pathogenesis suggest that nodding syndrome may be a neuroinflammatory disorder, possibly induced by antibodies to O. volvulus cross-reacting with neuron proteins. Histological examination of post-mortem brains has shown some yet to be characterized polarizable material in the majority of specimens. Studies to confirm these observations and a clinical trial are planned for 2016.
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April 2016

Burden of sickle cell trait and disease in the Uganda Sickle Surveillance Study (US3): a cross-sectional study.

Lancet Glob Health 2016 Mar 29;4(3):e195-200. Epub 2016 Jan 29.

Ministry of Health for the Republic of Uganda, Kampala, Uganda.

Background: Sickle cell disease contributes substantially to mortality in children younger than 5 years in sub-Saharan Africa. In Uganda, 20,000 babies per year are thought to be born with sickle cell disease, but accurate data are not available. We did the cross-sectional Uganda Sickle Surveillance Study to assess the burden of disease.

Methods: The primary objective of the study was to calculate prevalence of sickle cell trait and disease. We obtained punch samples from dried blood spots routinely collected from HIV-exposed infants in ten regions and 112 districts across Uganda for the national Early Infant Diagnosis programme. Haemoglobin electrophoresis by isoelectric focusing was done on all samples to identify those from babies with sickle trait or disease.

Findings: Between February, 2014, and March, 2015, 99,243 dried blood spots were analysed and results were available for 97,631. The overall number of children with sickle cell trait was 12,979 (13·3%) and with disease was 716 (0·7%). Sickle cell numbers ranged from 631 (4·6%) for trait and 23 (0·2%) for disease of 13,649 in the South Western region to 1306 (19·8%) for trait and 96 (1·5%) for disease of 6581 in the East Central region. Sickle cell trait was seen in all districts. The lowest prevalence was less than 3·0% in two districts. Eight districts had prevalence greater than 20·0%, with the highest being 23·9%. Sickle cell disease was less common in children older than 12 months or who were HIV positive, which is consistent with comorbidity and early mortality.

Interpretation: Prevalence of sickle cell trait and disease were high in Uganda, with notable variation between regions and districts. The data will help to inform national strategies for sickle cell disease, including neonatal screening.

Funding: Cincinnati Children's Research Foundation.
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March 2016