Keynote address: The challenge of thalassemia for the developing countries.
The thalassemias occur at some of their highest frequencies in the developing countries, particularly those of Asia. In many countries, facilities for the control of these conditions are extremely limited. Although a great deal can be done to help the situation by developing further North-South and South-South partnerships for disseminating better practice, the major problem for the future lies in the unwillingness of governments and international health agencies to accept that the thalassemias present a health burden comparable to that of other major diseases in the developing countries. However, preliminary analyses suggest that, at least in the case of Asia, this is not true. Further work of this nature, together with more detailed frequency and economic data, are required to provide solid evidence for the health burden posed by thalassemia in the developing world. Unless this is done, the large populations of patients with thalassemia in these countries will continue to be neglected.