Once locked in decades of isolation, Albania is seeing new horizons in the fight against poverty. Expectations run high, driving demands for better and healthier lives.
People are raising their expectations, says Dr. Alban Ylli of the Institute of Public Health and Hygiene. They want better, more accessible health services. The Ministry of Health is trying to keep pace with those expectations, but there are problems.
One growing problem is cancer care and treatment. More than 4000 new cases are diagnosed every year, and cancer wards and waiting rooms are full. The IAEA, World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners are working to help Albania.
Growing Cancer Cases
At the Mother Teresa University Hospital in Tirana, Dr. Agim Sallaku is a very busy man. Head of the Oncology Institute, he is witnessing at first hand the surge in the countrys cancer rates and in peoples rising expectations for better care and treatment.
The Institute is the only cancer treatment centre serving the countrys 3.6 million people. Its wards are filled with patients there for surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy. And every day, hundreds of day-patients crowd its narrow corridors, waiting for treatment or to speak to doctors.
In 1990, Albania recorded around 2800 new cancer cases a year. Today the Balkan country is seeing a 50% increase in cases and cancer is now second only to cardiovascular disease as a cause of death.
Cancer is a multi-factorial disease and the way we live plays a big role, says Dr. Sallaku. Changes in lifestyle in Albania over the last 17 yearsconnected to food, smoking, pollution, physical activity, stress and so onmean significantly increased risk factors.
Since emerging from decades of isolation at the beginning of the 1990s, Albania has struggled with multiple challenges: political instability, economic disruption, and structural underdevelopment.
|Contact: Angela Leuker|
International Atomic Energy Agency