The ITAMA project is co-funded by the INTERREG V-A Italia-Malta program. The main part of this project is a screening programme set up to detect the condition of Coeliac Disease in children aged between 4 and 12 years, before the symptoms develop, allowing early treatment and a better quality of life for affected children. The screening test is a Point of Care Test whereby the child’s finger is lightly pricked and a drop of blood squeezed out onto the test kit to check for possibility of Coeliac Disease. These tests are being carried out by a group of professional nurses, members of the MUMN all around schools in Malta and Gozo. The project has been granted permission by the ethics board. The programme was planned to run during the scholastic year 2019-2020, however due to the COVID-19 emergency, the testing had to be stopped abruptly and shall resume once schools are open again and it is considered safe to do such testing. All participation costs are covered by the project, hence there are no costs involved either for the schools or the children being tested.
Since November 2019, the children started receiving a take-home booklet containing information about coeliac disease, a questionnaire and a consent form. The questionnaire included a set of questions related to symptoms and health history of the child or immediate relatives. Those children that returned the completed questionnaire including their parents’ consent, have been included in the testing list. 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.
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. Further information about the project can be obtained from www.itamaproject.eu https://www.facebook.com/ITAMAproject/