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The 1st Pan-Asian Conference on thalassaemias and other haemoglobinopathies

The 1st Pan-Asian Conference on thalassaemias and other haemoglobinopathies took place in Bangkok, Thailand, on 8th-10th February 2012. This is the first time that over 300 participants including Ministry of Health Officials, WHO-Country representatives, medical specialists, and scientists, other health professionals and patients/parents from 20 countries of South East Asia and Western Pacific regions join hands and efforts towards a big step forward.

This conference is being held at a time when there is genuine international commitment for a better future for patients with the many different forms of thalassaemia and other Hb disorders, based on advances in medical research, but also on adopted resolutions by the World Health Organisation.
Hb disorders, and in particular thalassaemia, constitute one of the most common groups of genetic diseases in Asia and one which, further to its medical significance, is associated with immense public health, economic and social repercussions. About 7% of the global population is a carrier and more than 70% of the global annual births of patients with a severe form of Hb disorder occur in this Region as a result of ineffective or absence of prevention strategies. Sadly, this is also the Region that exhibits the highest rates of morbidity and mortality as a result of suboptimal or absence or lack of accessibility of appropriate treatment and other health and social care.

Very importantly, a few thalassaemia syndromes are almost exclusively confined to this Region, reflecting the need for special focus and promotion of different policies on the prevention and management of these diseases; but it also reflects the need of local and regional experts for sharing this invaluable knowledge and experience with international experts, and for establishing collaborations, networks and joint initiatives.

Patients’ organisations and health professionals together will offer indeed a unique forum for sharing, exchanging information, data, experiences, expectations, and visions for a better future in a most hospitable and culturally-rich country such as Thailand.
It is therefore most appropriate and very timely that the Thalassaemia International Federation is organising this meeting and we are very grateful to the Thai Ministry of Health, the Mahidol University, the Thalassaemia Foundation of Thailand, and the entire local medical community for their close and most productive collaboration, in the organisation of this conference. Some countries of the region including Thailand have contributed, since long, to the international and regional scientific advances, and continue to do so in the field.

However, there is still considerable work to be done to ensure the right of every citizen and/or patient, in these countries, as in every country of the world, for quality care accessible and available to all. Focus and attention to human suffering are characteristics of the different cultures of the countries in this region and, we are confident that haemoglobin disorders will assume the priority they deserve on national and regional health agendas.

TIF plans to turn the outcome of this meeting into a consensus document that will engage every Government of the Region. The integration of these diseases in national health plans will be supported by the two specific WHO Resolutions of 2006 on thalassaemia and SCD, and the many other WHO resolutions that are directly or indirectly related to Hb disorders.

TIF is the International Organisation representing the patients and their families and the materialisation of this conference has been the culmination of over one year’s of hard work from both, the TIF office and its valued medical collaborators in Thailand, Profs Suthat Fucharoen and Vip Viprakasit, the Thalassaemia Foundation of Thailand and Mahidol University, and the members of the distinguished faculty – local, regional and international. In addition, we would like to express our most sincere appreciation to the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau for their support.

Finally, TIF expresses its gratefulness and high admiration to the Government and the people of Thailand for their diligence, devotion and the hard work, virtues that have helped them to face the difficulties and hardship that had been caused by the terrible November floods, came up once again winners.

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