The Republic of Kosovo is a country with a population of 2 million people of whom over 50% are below age 20.
Up to August 2008, only palliative care was available for childhood malignancies.
The pediatric hematology-oncology ward in Pristina was renovated by Mutter Teresa Humanitarian Organization (München-Germany), initial training was provided by the University of Graz (Austria), professional advice and diagnostic support by the Cure2children Foundation and Policlinico Gemelli (Italy). Treatment protocols were adapted to local conditions.
Between August 15, 2008 and March 1, 2012 a total of 156 patients were registered at the Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Service of the University of Pristina, representing approximately 35% of expected cases based on the total pediatric population; 86 received therapy entirely locally and 70 were initially treated abroad. The 30 acute lymphoblastic leukemias with good prednisone response had an actuarial overall survival and event-free survival (EFS) of 76% and 57% respectively at a median follow up of 17 months; for 15 Wilm’s tumor patients EFS is 72% at median follow up 27 months and for 10 Hodgkin’s disease cases is 100% at median follow up of 14 months. Overall case distribution is: leukemias 43%, lymphomas 12%, CNS tumors 10% and other 36%. A total of 37 needy families entered a support program and no case of treatment abandonment has been observed to date. Cure2Children has provided financial help for local family visits, telemedicine, family support and drugs for a total of 80,000€.
Kosovo has now an active service for the treatment of pediatric malignancies, however, diagnostic and therapeutic improvements are needed as well as active participation in international collaborations. For this the local parents association (NFK) has purchased a flowcytometer (an equipment required for appropriate diagnosis and best therapy decisions). Next-phase planning with the Kosovo Ministry of Health is underway.