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IDEAS AND SPIRIT OF THE BALKAN CITIES ASSOCIATION OF NEPHROLOGY, DIALYSIS, TRANSPLANTATION AND ARTIFICIAL ORGANS (BANTAO) CONNECT NEPHROLOGISTS FROM THE BALKAN CITIES – FROM THE FOUNDATION TO THE 15th BANTAO CONGRESS
Momir Polenakovic and Goce Spasovski
The Balkan Cities Association of Nephrology, Dialysis, Transplantation and Artificial Organs (BANTAO) was established in Ohrid, Republic of Macedonia on October 9, 1993 during the First Congress of the Macedonian Society of Nephrology, Dialysis, Transplantation and Artificial Organs (MSNDTAO). The idea of the founders was that such Society would have a clear impact on several aspects of practice and research in nephrology and artificial organs in the Balkans, firstly, by increasing its international visibility and potential collaborative work, and recognition by international organizations. Secondly, such a society would facilitate the exchange of experience and knowledge between experts in our area. In addition, it would be a very positive symbolic act showing that collaborative work for the betterment of life is possible and desirable in our area and that coming together will bear better fruits at the human and cultural levels. It will also send a very clear signal to the outside world that the Balkans can be a place of collaboration and mutual understanding. Several international bodies such as the International Society of Artificial Organs and the International Faculty of Artificial Organs have signaled their interest in and support for the creation of such a society. Despite the turbulent times in the Balkan Peninsula, the First BANTAO Congress was held in Varna from September 22 to 24, 1995, which was an impressive event. F. Valderrabano, Chairman of the EDTA–ERA registry reported on that event with a lot of sympathy in thepaper entitled “Nephrologists of the Balkan countries meet across political frontiers and war fronts – an example to politicians. The foundation of and the Second Congress of BANTAO were also well accepted by the colleagues nephrologists from Russia. The Second Congress was held on September 6-10, 1997 in Struga, the Third BANTAO Congress was held on September 18-20, 1998 in Belgrade, the Fourth Congress of BANTAO was held in Izmir on November 14-16, 1999, the Fifth Congress of BANTAO was held in Thessaloniki on September 30 – October 3, 2001, the 6th BANTAO Congress was held in Varna, on October 6-9, 2003, the 7th BANTAO Congress was held in Ohrid, on September 8-11, 2005, the 8th BANTAO Congress was held in Belgrade, on September 16-19, 2007, the 9th BANTAO Congress was held in Antalya, November 18-22, 2009, the 10th BANTAO Congress was held in Chalkidiki, October13-15, 2011, the 11th BANTAO Congress was held from 26 to 29 September 2013 in Timisoara on the20th Anniversary of the foundation of BANTAO, the 12th BANTAO Congress was held on October 15-18, 2015 in Opatija, the 13th BANTAO Congress was held on 4-8 October, 2017 in Sarajevo, the 14th BANTAO Congress was held on September 20-23, 2018, in Budva and the 15th BANTAO Congress was held in Skopje, 26-29 September 2019. Another milestone in the life of BANTAO was the appearance of the BANTAO journal in 2003, which has been published biannually since then. In the past 17 years there have been 33 editions of the journal and seven supplements reporting BANTAO congresses. The editors of the journal past and present are: 2003–2005 (Dimitar Nenov); 2005–2009 (Ali Basci); 2009– (Goce Spasovski). Up to date, more than 400 papers have been published. The BANTAO journal is registered on EBSCO, DOAJ, SCOPUS, and has become a strong ‘glue’ among nephrologists from the Balkan cities. The BANTAO congresses and the BANTAO journal have succeeded in elevating nephrology knowledge and thus increased the standards of nephrology patient care throughout the Balkans. Standing above the divisive forces of politics, language and war, BANTAO gives a living example that collaboration and humility are feasible in times of maddening destruction, and are transformative.
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