July 18, 2008 Dear Colleague: As someone interested in future generations of Ukrainians, and therefore in birth defects (BD) and their prevention, we would like to inform you that OMNI-Net teams have documented trends in Ukraine that need further attention from investigators, public health experts and particularly from community organizations and leaders like you. OMNI-Net is registered in Ukraine as a not-for-profit international organization, currently sustaining international partnerships with several US Universities and jointly implementing BD prevention programs funded by the National Institutes of Health. Our network reports BD data collected applying international standards to the EU sponsored network of monitoring systems. We seek and welcome new advocates and partners needed to sustain and expand our programs. Recently, we received a US federal grant to partially sponsor the "1st Central and Eastern European Summit on Preconception Health" to be held in Budapest, August 27-30th and to be attended by several Ministers of Health and leading International Experts. This event will allow our teams to make 15 presentations and will also provide for a special session focused on our programs in Ukraine as a source of lessons learned for discussion with international counterparts. Information about the above is given in: http://ibis-birthdefects.org/start/2008_summit.htm (between the 8 and s there is and underscore). We are seeking your advice and assistance as well as request that you share this petition with other leaders and organizations. We are also requesting tax-deductible donations to complete our studies of birth defects in Polissia (mainly in the Rivne region). Four years ago we published a scientific report stressing that rates of anencephaly (brain agenesis) were elevated. Subsequent data confirms this fact and also indicates an excess of conjoined twins and related malformations. Whenever the issue of birth defects in Ukraine is raised, inevitably the issue of Chornobyl also arises. We now seek to expand data collection about environmental factors including chronic low dose radiation. Private donors can be assured that since our teams are in place, this task will be completed promptly and render our scientific reports more compelling. It may surprise you to know that we are unaware of population studies applying international standards of Chornobyl impacts on child development funded by international agencies. Please, forward tax deductible donations marked "Ukraine Programs" and issued to "Health Sciences Foundation of the University of South Alabama" (address is shown below). With my very best regards, Wolodymyr Wertelecki, M.D. Professor and Chairman of Medical Genetics International Coordinator of OMNI-Net University of South Alabama Department of Medical Genetics 307 University Blvd. N., Research Park III, Suite 1400 Mobile, AL 36688 P.S.
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