Hemoglobin analyzer supports anemia study in resource limited West Africa

May 17, 2019

EKF Diagnostics, the global in vitro diagnostics company, announced the use of its FDA cleared DiaSpect Tm (sold as Consult Hb in the U.S.) point-of-care hemoglobin analyzer to study iron-deficient anemia in a remote region of Ghana, West Africa.

The Eleanor Mann School of Nursing at the University of Arkansas took 15 nursing students on a Study Abroad Program in Bolgatanga, Ghana in summer 2018. Working at small village clinics they established that anemia is very common among women of childbearing age, sometimes leading to blood transfusions, but more commonly, death. Therefore, in addition to measuring hemoglobin (Hb) using EKF’s fully portable hand-held analyzer and confirming the prevalence of anemia, the team also provided vital nutritional education. Given the success of this program, a further 15-strong team from the University will return in summer 2019, extending their anemia studies to include the elderly who are at high risk of death from anemia.

In summer 2018, the nursing students centered Hb testing on women of child-bearing age. After reading current research data on anemia in Ghana, they developed an anemia focused teaching program, providing education on the dietary importance of iron and protein. They also undertook a small research project on the women's perceptions of anemia in women and children. This study concluded that it is imperative to understand the community before conducting public health initiatives to ensure that teachings are accurate and tailored to the culture and mindset of the target audience.

Using the DiaSpect for the study, a total of 176 Hb tests were undertaken with a 45 percent rate of tests below the normal values; these results supported the pre-study desk research and hypothesis that iron-rich and high protein foods need to be increased in the women’s diets. The educational program focused on which local foods were iron-rich or high protein and why it is important to include them in the diets of new mothers, pregnant women and those of child-bearing age.

Leading the nursing team and study program, Carol Agana, University of Arkansas, explained why they chose to use EKF’s DiaSpect Tm in Ghana, “The point-of-care analyzer had to be unaffected by high ambient temperatures, as well as being easy-to-use and even easier to carry. Battery life was also important for working in remote areas, so when charged up it could last a very long time, which is great when electricity is either unavailable or intermittent.  Furthermore, having virtually instantaneous hemoglobin results meant that the participants didn’t have to wait or return for these. Also ideal was the fact that DiaSpect’s sampling cuvette requires such a tiny drop of blood from a standardized finger prick procedure.”

The DiaSpect Tm provides users with precise hemoglobin measurements (CV within run ≤1 percent) within two seconds of its whole blood-filled microcuvette being inserted for analysis. Palm-sized, it is easily transportable, and beneficial for use in any screening setting even in challenging climatic environments, as demonstrated by the Ghana-based study.

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