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RESEARCH: New Ifakara study finds alternative anaemia treatment safe, effective

Dec. 10, 2020
RESEARCH: New Ifakara study finds alternative anaemia treatment safe, effective
A sniff of The Lancet publication - online edition - with an inset of Dr. Omar Lweno of Ifakara Health Institute. PHOTO/GRAPHIC | IFAKARA/coms

A new study by Ifakara Health Institute and European partners has confirmed that treating anaemia using the iron infusion method is more effective and safer than using the current - standard - method of dispensing oral iron tablets.

Findings of the study, published recently in The Lancet Global Health, show that iron infusion was found to be more feasible and safer compared to the standard iron-deficiency anaemia treatment using oral iron tablets.

"Intravenous iron substitution with ferric carboxymaltose was safe and yielded a better haemoglobin response than oral iron," the researchers say in their publication’s abstract.

Ifakara Health Institute's Dr. Omar Lweno (pictured - inset) contributed equally to the publication with Dr. Fiona Vanobberghen of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH). Other contributors to the study include Dr. Andrea Kuemmerle from the Swiss TPH; Dr. Kwaba Dennis Mwebi; Peter Asilia; and Amina Issa - all from Ifakara Health Institute research sites in Tanzania.

"To our knowledge, this is the first study to provide evidence of the benefits and safety of intravenous iron substitution in a low-income setting," the researchers claim. They say, the study has demonstrated that iron infusions can be safely used in rural African settings just as it is being used in high-income settings.


More: About the Study

Iron deficiency anaemia is of major concern in some low and middle-income settings, especially for women of childbearing age. Oral iron substitution efficacy is limited by poor compliance and iron depletion severity. The study aimed to assess the efficacy and safety of intravenous ferric carboxymaltose versus oral iron substitution following childbirth in women with iron deficiency anaemia in Tanzania.

Two study sites were involved: the Bagamoyo District Hospital in Bagamoyo and the Mwananyamala Regional Referral Hospital in Dar es Salaam. A total of 533 individuals were screened in the study and 230 were successfully enrolled. It was conducted for one and half years between October 2015 and March 2017.

The study was implemented by Ifakara Health Institute in collaboration with the Swiss TPH with the financial support from the Vifor Pharma, Rudolf Geigy-Stiftung, Freiwillige Akademische Gesellschaft, and the Swiss TPH.

Read The Lancet Global Health article: Study finds alternative anaemia treatment safe, effective

More: About Iron-Deficiency Anaemia

Iron deficiency anemia is a common type of anemia — a condition in which blood lacks adequate healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen to the body's tissues. As the name implies, iron deficiency anemia is due to insufficient iron (Source: Mayor Clinic).

Over 1 billion people globally are affected by iron-deficiency anaemia. In sub-Saharan Africa, anaemia is among the major public health concerns with roughly 60% of the population suffering from anaemia. Around half of those cases are due to iron deficiency. Anaemia has a negative impact on an individual's quality of life, and the economic development of a country. Women are at particularly high risk, and their risk increases during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum. #