According to the director of Benjamin Mkapa Hospital, it marks a milestone for the country’s health sector and the unit will focus on treating patients with sickle cell. Very few countries in Africa offer bone marrow transplants – only Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, South Africa and Tunisia have similar treatment programmes. Sickle cell is an inherited disorder and most cases are found in sub-Saharan Africa. It is caused by a faulty gene that affects how red blood cells develop and the condition can cause severe pain and organ failure. A bone marrow transplant replaces bone marrow with healthy cells. It is also used to treat patients with leukaemia or blood cancer. The East African nation ranks fourth in the world for the highest rates of sickle cell, with around 11,000 children born with the disease each year, according to Tanzania’s health ministry.