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National Publications

The following publications used ISAAC data from Albania:

  • Priftanji A, Strachan D, Burr M, Sinamati J, Shkurti A, Grabocka E, Kaur B, Fitzpatrick S. Asthma and allergy in Albania and the UK. Lancet 2001; 358(9291):1426-7.

Albania, Northern and Eastern Europe

Centres:Phase:PI:Age Groups
Tiranë1 Professor Alfred Priftanji 13-14, 6-7
Tiranë2 Professor Alfred Priftanji 10-11 y. old
Tiranë3 Professor Alfred Priftanji 13-14, 6-7

National Coordinator:


  • National Coordinator for Albania
  • Phase One Principal Investigator for Tiranë
  • Phase Two Principal Investigator for Tiranë
  • Phase Three Principal Investigator for Tiranë

Professor Alfred Priftanji

Faculty of Medicine, University of Tirana
Head, Department of Allergology and Clinical Immunology
University Hospital Center “Mother Theresa”

Why we were chosen for the ISAAC study

Albania is a small European country with approximately 3 million people. Until 1990 we were under an extremely closed communist regime. Later on, we understood that the Albanian population, as an isolated community, with a very simple lifestyle, different from “western” lifestyle, was an ideal sample for the Strachan Hygiene Hypothesis.

In 1992, Dr. Jane Layzell, a collaborator of Dr. Michael Burr in the ECRHS in Cardiff, came to Albania as part of “Feed the Children” programme. She proposed that I apply for epidemiological surveys of asthma & allergies in Tirana. In 1994 I recieved an EU grant and started the ECRHS in Albania, so called Albanian Respiratory Health Survey (ARHS). Dr. Michael Burr was appointed as a coordinator. Our center took part actively in this study and we got the first prevalence ever for adult asthma in Albania and in Balkan areas.

At the same period, with the recommendation of Dr. Michael Burr and Dr. Jane Layzell, we applied and were accepted in the ISAAC Phase One Study. The prevalence of asthma & allergies were the lowest in Europe and it was postulated that our population was not exposed to the risk factors present in the western countries. After that we were part of ISAAC family and participated in all phases of ISAAC.

The factors associated with asthma & allergy in Albania were therefore of particular interest. Prof. Alfred Priftanji and his team were supported in all other ISAAC Phases by ISAAC Steering Committee members like Prof. Stefan Weiland, Prof. David Strachan, Prof. Bengt Björkstén, Dr. Michael Burr, Prof. Erika Von Mutius, etc. The Albanian team worked meticulously and hard in order to be an active, reliable partner in this study. So, for the first time in Albania & Balkan we achieved a plausible data base for the prevalence, the risk factors of the asthma & allergic diseases in children and we had the opportunity to compare these data with the other centers worldwide.

Albania took part also in ISAAC phases Two and Three. Outstanding work was done from the teams of each phase and the primary investigator on fulfilling the work and persuading the children and the parents in order to take part in the study. The data we received from ISAAC surveys helped us to raise the awareness of the medical community, health policy makers for asthma & allergies as a growing problem.

We are very proud that Albania, a small country, thanks to all our work was able to participate in equal terms in this enormous study. We had the opportunity to work with eminent names in this field and we are grateful for to all the scientists that supported our involvement.

Now, in September 2011, with financial support from GlaxoSmithKline we will repeat the protocol of ISAAC phase One and partially phase Two in Tirana. In these 16 years the Albanian people have adopted the western lifestyle, so have been exposed to the same risk factors as in all other parts of Europe. We are really enthusiastic for this study because we are very curious to see the trend of asthma and allergic diseases and also evaluate the role of risk factors after 16 years.

Our acknowledgement goes to the team of ISAAC-Albania:

Primary Investigator: Prof. Alfred Priftanji.
Doctors: Anila Shkurti, Juventila Sinemati, Edi Grabocka, Anxhela Gurakuqi, Sokol Agolli, Kastriot Shytaj, Mira Ziçishti, Xhilda Raço.
Nurses: Frasete Kasemi, Loreta Laho.
Secretary: Margarita Doci