Sickle Cell Unit

The Sickle Cell Unit is the only comprehensive Sickle Cell Centre in the English-speaking Caribbean. Our core functions revolve around healthcare, research and training related to Sickle Cell Disease (SCD).

Sickle Cell Clinic


Our primary role is the diagnosis of Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) and the provision of quality health maintenance services to our patients and a consultative service for others, both locally and regionally. The SCU screens more than half of all babies born in Jamaica annually as well as testing older children and adults. Routine health maintenance services include wellness checks, disease education and anticipatory guidance, as well as preventive interventions – immunization and penicillin prophylaxis. Approximately 3000 patients visit the clinic each year, accounting for about 9000 health visits annually. These include routine health maintenance visits as well as sick / emergency.

Sick/Emergency Visits

The Clinic offers a secondary acute day-care service. “A daycare ward is a useful strategy for managing various acute complications of Sickle Cell Disease (SCD), especially vaso‐occlusive crises, on an out‐patient basis. It can provide more rapid and equally effective treatment to an emergency department and reduce the need for hospitalization. Studies to date have explored the use of this facility in managing SCD pain crises.” Asnani, V.; Black, K.; Harris, J.; Knight-Madden, J.; Asnani, M. (2020). Use of the daycare ward for management of acute complications of sickle cell disease in Jamaica: a retrospective review. International Journal of Clinical Practice. 75. 10.1111/ijcp.13755.

Other Services

In addition to SCD diagnostics, the unit also offers Transcranial Doppler Ultrasound and Echocardiogram services for patients. Transcranial Doppler ultrasound measurements allow the assessment of stroke risk in children. Those at high risk are offered hydroxyurea, a medication which decreases stroke risk. Echocardiograms allow the diagnosis of cardiac complications, facilitating appropriate referral and treatment.


Clinical Team

  • Keisha-Gaye Alexander-Gabbadon
  • Nicki Chin
  • Vanessa Cumming
  • Lesley King
  • Patrice Simmons-Brooks


The Sickle Cell Unit (SCU) has blazed an impressive trail over the years in research and clinical work to prolong life and survival of people with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD), and advocating on the issues of Newborn Screening for SCD as a policy imperative for regional populations. Between 1973 and 1981, the SCU conducted the Jamaica Sickle Cell Cohort Study, that among other findings, demonstrated that 15% of Jamaican adults are at risk of having a child with SCD and that 1 in every 150 Jamaicans are born with SCD.

The data from this seminal Study in Jamaica, informed resolutions by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), USA (1987), the World Health Organization (WHA59.20, 2006) and the United Nations (A/63/L.63, 2008), which all declared SCD to be a global public health issue.

Major areas of focus in research are implementation science, women’s health in SCD, clinical trials and psychosocial aspects of SCD. The Unit plays a critical role in the Sickle Cell Technical Working Group, which has achieved universal newborn screening and is now implementing tools and strategies to scale up the use of proven interventions island-wide.

The SCU has provided training in aspects of SCD across the island and regionally to various types of healthcare workers, decreasing the need for patients to travel to access quality care.

The SCU collaborates closely with international partners such as the Caribbean Network of Researchers in Sickle Cell Disease and Thalassemia, the Sickle Cell Disease Coalition and Sickle in Africa and are involved in the move to managing data in a way that encourages international comparisons and builds global knowledge.

Faculty Members

  • Monika Asnani
  • Jennifer Knight-Madden
  • Angela Rankine Mullings
  • Zachary Ramsay