AUA sponsors free sickle cell screening program for newborns in Antigua

American University of Antigua College of Medicine (AUA) and the Caribbean Network of Researchers on Sickle Cell Disease and Thalassemia (CAREST) in cooperation with Mount St. John’s Medical Center (MSJMC) has announced the launch of a newborn screening program for sickle cell disease. Thanks to this partnership and a donation from AUA, newborns will be screened at no cost to the parents or the Antiguan government. This innovative program was recently launched with the first screening of a newborn baby at MSJMC in early September. AUA and its screening program partners hope to extend the program to Barbuda and other private medical facilities in the near future.

At the launch, Dr. Edda Hadeed, President of the Antigua and Barbuda Sickle Cell Association, stated that early detection is critical. “It’s going to benefit everybody. Remember the screening finds a sick child, so that child will get better care and earlier care. We won’t have to wait now until something happens and the child gets very ill. Now, we can manage this child’s health from the very beginning,” Dr. Hadeed said.

Stakeholders at AUA also recognized the importance of early detection for a population that has been burdened by delayed diagnoses. Often, patients with the disease are not diagnosed until they are exhibiting severe symptoms, at which point irreversible damage has already occurred and medical expenses to facilitate treatment are extensive. Vernon Solomon, Vice President for Administrative Services and Director of Community Affairs at AUA, details the University’s reasons for helping to launch the program: “To see how this will now be able to help other families not just now but on into the future —it’s not something that we could have just let pass.”

For many families, this program can mean many more years with loved ones who have the disease. Although sickle cell disease cannot yet be cured, early detection can help doctors and patients proactively manage treatment of the disease to avoid permanent organ damage and prolong life expectancy.

AUA plans to devote extensive resources to the continuation and expansion of the program, and University stakeholders are actively looking for the best ways to aid in the fight against the devastation caused by the disease to the Antiguan community.

About American University of Antigua College of Medicine

American University of Antigua College of Medicine (AUA) is a fully accredited international medical school in the Caribbean dedicated to providing an academic experience of the highest quality. Via a holistic admissions approach, AUA selects students with the potential for medical school success and provides them with the resources they need to obtain highly competitive residencies and move on to successful careers in medicine.

Founded in 2004, AUA awards the Doctor of Medicine degree after four academic years. Students complete a Preclinical Sciences curriculum on the island of Antigua in the Caribbean, followed by clinical rotations in the United States, Canada, India, or the United Kingdom at affiliated teaching hospitals. Visit AUA’s website to learn more.

AUA is accredited by the Caribbean Accreditation Authority for Education in Medicine and Other Health Professions (CAAM-HP) and is also approved by the U.S. Department of Education to participate in federal student aid programs, approved by the New York State Education Department (NYSED), licensed by the Florida Department of Education (DOE), and recognized by the Medical Board of California (MBC).