Germany has been an immigration country since the early 1950s. In December 2007, 6.7 million non-German citizens lived in the country. However, the total number of citizens with a migration background is 15–20 million, about 9 million of whom come from countries where sickle cell disease and thalassaemias are frequent. In a country with 82 million inhabitants health authorities are not worried by the presence of probably 1000–1500 sickle cell and 450 transfusion-dependent thalassaemia patients, and therefore no screening or preventive measures have been taken so far on a national scale. There are plans for a pilot project (1 year) to screen all newborns for sickle cell disease in obstetric hospitals in 4–5 cities with more than 20% migrants. Funding and lack of an infrastructure to provide counselling are major problems.
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Competing interests: None.
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