South African Family Practice

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The straight and marrow - a primary care approach to anaemia

V Moodley, J Alant


Anaemia remains a common global health issue with approximately a quarter of the world’s population affected despite universal initiatives to address the disorder. Iron deficiency anaemia and anaemia of chronic disease remain the two top ranking causes of anaemia globally and when these conditions co-exist, diagnosis is often challenging. In South Africa, high-risk groups include children, pregnant women and human immunodeficiency virus infected individuals. The morbidity and mortality associated with anaemia mandates the correct identification of the underlying cause, thus ensuring early, appropriate management. This review proposes morphological assessment with the appropriate baseline biochemical testing as the initial approach to unexplained anaemia in a primary health care setting in South Africa, in order to expedite diagnosis and ensure appropriate management.

Keywords: anemia, anaemia, anaemia diagnosis, anaemia of chronic disease, human immunodeficiency virus infection, iron deficiency anaemia

AJOL African Journals Online