Evolution and Effectiveness of the Greek National Treatment Program for Thalassemia

Haema 2011; 2(3): 330-340

by Christos Kattamis

Professor of Paediatric, Medical School University of Athens

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Abstract

In Greece thalassemia was recognized as a severe public health program since 1960 after extensive epidemiological studies. Greek medicine was actively involved in the study and management of thalassemias and in cooperation with health authorities organized and implemented a national program for the management of β thalassemias. The program consisted of two parts: one for prevention and the other for follow and treatment of patients. This article reviewes the progressive evolution of follow and management of patients with β thalassemias in Greece; in particular the organization, structure, implementation and evaluation of the National program of treatment of patients with transfusion dependent β and δβ thalassemias. The final results of the program are comparable to those of other developed coun- tries. In summary these are: a) Complete cure after marrow transplantation in ~150 patients, b) considerable improvement in survival especially of patients on effective chelation (possibility of survival at the age of 40yrs ~90%), c) progressive increase in the mean age of patients (2.4 yrs in 1965 versus ~30 yrs in 2005) d) significant improvement in the main clinical symptoms and complications, e) significant improvement in quality of life and social integration, and f) considerable reduction of the burden of thalassemia as public health problem. For Greek pediatrics thalassemia is now a very rare monogenic genetic disease.