Research team of led by head of the Department of Children’s Diseases and Pediatric Surgery, Professor Oksana Boyarchuk recently won a grant for the project “Implementation of the mixed model of training physicians and raising public awareness to improve rate of primary immune deficiency diagnoses in children of Ternopil region.”
As described by Dr. Boyarchuk, the idea of this project emerged a year ago, when she trained in Poland and Greece.
“I realized that in Ukraine the problem of primary immune deficiencies in children receives little attention. First of all, we have a low level of diagnosis of these diseases. Looking deeper into this topic, I found Jeffrey Modell Foundation, which is involved in education of doctors and the public, provides research grants and grants to patients’ organizations to raise awareness of this problem. Last year I won a grant to participate in a conference in Boston. It was a meeting of the North American Society of clinical immunologists. Participation in this event has given me inspiration to further tackle this area of research. After returning to Ukraine, I got in touch the head of “Rare immune diseases” network Halyna Pavuk and together we organized in Ternopil an outreach event on the occasion of the Primary Immune Deficiencies Week. Then I applied to Jeffrey Modell Foundation for a grant to expand these activities. Only a few days after submitting the application, I received reply that the foundation will provide funds for our program, “- said Oksana Boyarchuk.
The project has two main focus areas: education of physicians and raising of public awareness to the problem of primary immune deficiencies in Ukraine and in particular in Ternopil region. Ternopil State Medical University researchers will develop training courses and workshops for the staff of regional and district hospitals. As a result, doctors will receive tools for better and timely diagnoses of primary immune deficiencies in children.
As for raising public awareness, this direction of work will result in a number of events during which project participants inform the public about primary immune deficiencies. These activities are aimed to identify risk groups in need of additional screening efforts to detect these disorders.
“We will pay particular attention to ensure that those who need it have an opportunity to be screened for free. Traditional method of testing immunoglobulin levels alone is insufficient. This project will investigate other links, such as T-cell immunity, phagocytosis system, and research of antibody immunoglobulin subclasses. We hope that better understanding of mechanisms of these disorders will help to improve the diagnosis. Currently, only 11 children have been diagnosed with primary immune deficiencies in the entire Ternopil region. However, we estimate that there are should be around 1,000 of such patients. This under-diagnosis belies the complete picture. If we can diagnose these disorders quickly, we will improve the quality of life of these children providing them with appropriate medical support “, – added Oksana Boyarchuk.
The project will also closer establish cooperation with patients’ rights NGOs, because they are already quite active in this area. Project participants plan to create a Ternopil patients’ center for people affected with these disorders to get in touch and help each other.
The project will involve participants from Poland, including Immunology Clinic of Wroclaw Medical University, as well as National Medical Academy of Postgraduate Education in Kyiv. A Polish-Ukrainian conference to summarize and exchange experiences is planned at the end of the project.