Severe anaemia in Port Moresby. A review of 101 adult Melanesian patients with haemoglobin level of 4G/100 ml or less
Williams, G.; Naraqi, S.
Papua and New Guinea Medical Journal 22(4): 29-36
Causes of anaemia in 101 adult Melanesian patients admitted to Port Moresby General Hospital over a 3-year period with haemoglobin levels of 4.0 gms per 100 ml or less were studied retrospectively. Cases of anaemia due to acute haemmorrage were excluded. Iron deficiency was found in 80, haemolysis in 39, megloblastosis in 26 and anaemia of chronic diseases in 5 patients. Anaemia was secondary to multiple causes in 56 and to a single cause in 45 patients. In the group with multiple causes, a combination of iron deficiency and haemolysis was found in 18, iron deficiency and megaloblastosis in 18, iron deficiency, haemolysis and megaloblastosis in 6 and haemolysis and megaloblastosis in 5 patients. In the group with a single cause, iron deficiency was found in 34, anaemia of chronic diseases in 5, haemolysis in 4 and megaloblastosis in 2 patients. Hookworm infestation and malaria appeared to be the major underlying causes of anaemia in the majority of these patients. Three of 45 patients who had received blood transfusions shortly after admission to the hospital died, while there was only one death in the nontransfused group. It is concluded that: i) severe anaemia in Papua New Guinea is commonly secondary to multiple causes; ii) administration of iron and folic acid as well as treatment for malaria and hookworm is a responsible approach when these patients can not be investigated; and iii) blood transfusion does not appear to be necessary in this group of patients despite a very low haemoglobin level.