Thalassaemia International Federation (TIF) delegation visited Baku, Azerbaijan between April 23 and April 25, 2017, following an invitation from the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, and the “Savab Dunyasi” Azerbaijan Thalassaemia Patient Association. The purpose of the visit was to assess the healthcare services provided to patients with thalassaemia and other haemoglobinopathies in Azerbaijan and propose recommendations for the improvement of care primarily in the Republican Thalassaemia Centre in Baku and secondarily in Azerbaijan as a whole. The delegation consisted of (i) Dr. Michael Angastiniotis, TIF Medical Advisor, Nicosia, Cyprus; (ii) Prof. Zeynep Karakas, Haematolgist, Istanbul, Turkey; (iii) Dr. Dimitrios Farmakis, Cardiologist, Athens, Greece; (iv) Mr. Ahmet Varoglou, TIF expert patient.
One achievement is the upgrading of the services of the Republican Thalassaemia Centre, with the adoption of multidisciplinary care within a national thalassaemia care plan with specific assessment and treatment protocol. Also a national thalassaemia registry and further professional training were decided. One initial result of this visit was the appointment of a haematologist to head the Thalassaemia centre and initiate a series of necessary reforms aiming to upgrade services.
TIF Medical Advisors, Dr Michael Angastiniotis and Prof Suthat Fucharoen, were invited by the Indonesian Haematology Society to its annual conference, in order to present aspects of thalassaemia control. The opportunity was taken to review the current situation in the country as far as services for thalassaemia are concerned. In this respect after the conference the team, accompanied by Prof Djumhana, President of the Haematology Society, and Dr Amalia Wahidiyat, head of the thalassaemia centre at CIPTO hospital, visited officials in the Ministry of Health and had fruitful discussions. Also the new thalassaemia centre was visited and there was a meeting with the Thalassaemia Association (Yayasan/POPTI). The main meeting was with the Health Minister’s special advisor, Prof Akmal Taher, who explained that with the implementation of the National Health insurance scheme, which offers universal coverage, thalassaemia stood out as one of the economically catastrophic’ diseases. It is proposed that a National Commission is being formed, to formulate a National Policy and advise the Ministry. TIF will continue to follow developments and has offered any technical support that the Commission may request. TIF has also encouraged the Association to monitor progress and be an active advocate for change.