The ITAMA project, funded from the INTERREG V-A Italia-Malta program, will be targeting communities coming from Sicily and Malta. Using a multidisciplinary approach, ITAMA aims to:
- Raise awareness about the coeliac condition and study the disease in these two neighbouring countries sharing a very similar diet.
- Improve the diagnostic process from the concept of test accuracy to utility of the test (predictive value), with the support of ICT tools, currently not available in the scientific community for this pathology.
- The use of the AAc (Anti Actin IgA) test, already tested, performed in sequence with conventional tests, which preaches a compatible intestinal damage regardless of the symptoms, can increase the number of subjects to avoid biopsy. The verification of the diagnostic accuracy of the AAc test in a screening of over 20,000 primary school children in Malta and Sicily carries out a diagnostic algorithm for:
- the increase in the diagnosis of coeliac disease with decreased costs of the disease
- the increase in children diagnosed without biopsy, with a reduction in diagnostic costs
- the diagnostic accuracy of the PoC (Point of Care) test even if the test is negative
- Define tools for technology transfer and/or process innovation in the healthcare sector.
As part of the project, a screening programme is going to be set up to detect the condition before the symptoms develop, allowing early treatment and a better quality of life for affected children. The programme is expected to run during 2019 and 2020 and will focus on children aged four to twelve years attending all schools of Malta and Gozo (state, church, independent). All participation costs are covered by the project, hence there are no costs involved either for the schools or the children being tested.
A few weeks before the test, the children will be given a take-home booklet containing information about coeliac disease, a questionnaire and a consent form. The questionnaire will include a set of questions related to symptoms and health history of the child or immediate relatives. Those children returning the completed questionnaire including their parents’ consent, will proceed to be tested. The screening test is a rapid result, point of care test requiring only a drop of blood from the child. This will be performed by the designated staff who will attend the school grounds on the day of the testing and involves a relatively painless procedure like the finger prick test used by diabetics. The results of the tests will be reviewed by a medical team from Mater Dei Hospital, and those children who test positive shall be recalled and offered further testing in hospital.
The project has been granted permission by the ethics board and all schools are highly encouraged to participate for the benefit of their own students. This project may pave the way for a future screening programme being set up to diagnose the condition at an early age and offer the necessary diet for a healthier, stronger generation.
Focus IN CD – an Interreg Central Europe Project from 2019
Interreg Central Europe is a cohesion policy programme of the European Union (EU) and part of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). With a total funding budget of 246 million €, it encourages and supports cooperation beyond borders and between public and private organisations. Interreg CE projects fall into four different thematic priorities, comprising Innovation, Low Carbon, Culture & Environment, and Transport.
We would like to highlight the outputs of one of the projects under this programme: "Focus IN CD - Innovative patient centred health care services - advantages of establishing a close CE network in celiac disease patient health care", No. CE111, which belonged to the priority Innovation. With a funding of nearly 1.9 Mio € it aimed to substantially improve and harmonize the care of people with coeliac disease in Central Europe, which is why we believe it’s important for us to share it with our followers. Twelve partners from Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Slovenia were actively involved in this outstanding initiative.
One of the main aspects of this project was the development of online tools, particularly eLearning courses to empower patients or parents of children with coeliac disease and also to increase the knowledge about this chronic condition for health care professionals as physicians and dietitians. We invite you to explore the learning modules to learn more about coeliac disease and become an expert! Follow the courses free of charge on www.celiacfacts.eu.
For more information about the project, you may refer to their website: Focus IN CD - Interreg (interreg-central.eu)
ITAMA parents’ consent form MLT_ENG
Attached is the brochure/consent form currently being distributed in the primary schools that endorsed the project.View the consent form
ITAMA project overview by Lead Partner
Presentation including the project overview by the lead partnerView Presentation