World Arthritis Day: 12 October
World Arthritis Day, referred to as WAD, is a global awareness day held every year on 12 October. WAD aims to help raise awareness in all audiences across the world of the existence and impact of rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases, often referred to as RMDs. WAD was initially established by Arthritis and Rheumatism International (ARI) in 1996. The debilitating effects of RMDs, of which more than 200 exist, are little known; their impact, however, is largely – and silently – felt.
People living with Rheumatic and Muskuloskeletal Diseases (RMDs)
In the EU alone, too many people with an RMD remain undiagnosed. RMDs are estimated to affect 120 million people, many of whom are trying to cope with often overlooked and frequently misdiagnosed symptoms. A large part of the world’s population is thus affected by diseases that impact their quality of life and participation in society, including access to work, but without an effective solution. The inability to effectively participate in society reduces the self-esteem of the individual and increases their dependency on state welfare, the healthcare system, and their family and friends, challenging career plans to achieve independence.
Rheumatologists and other Health Professionals in Rheumatology (HPR)
The first healthcare professional patients with unidentified symptoms come into contact is usually a general practitioner (GP). However, as things stand, medical systems are often ill-equipped to provide the diagnosis, access, care, and treatment necessary to support those affected by RMDs.
Medical education generally offers very little training regarding RMDs, meaning that symptoms often go unintentionally undetected, misdiagnosed, or wrongly treated until the patient reaches a rheumatologist (which many might not). The situation is further complicated by the fact that rheumatology specialists are few in most European countries, let alone in the world. People without access to rheumatologists, nurses, physiotherapists, psychologists, or those trained in the RMD field, are at a distinct disadvantage in their lives as a result.
Rheumatology has experienced tremendous advancement over the last 20 years. What once was a field filled with unmet needs is now a field of exciting discoveries, clever methodological approaches, effective medicines and coordinated clinical strategies, including innovation in the delivery of care, physical therapy, nutrition, and psychological therapies.
However, these discoveries are little known outside the field of rheumatology; some RMDs still need effective treatments and access to public funding for rheumatology-focused research continues to be limited. Many people with RMDs also experience a high number of co-morbidities, several of which, like cancer or cardiovascular diseases, have their roots in long-standing inflammation in the body.
The ability to better research RMDs and their role in causing inflammation, thereby also helping to reduce the impact of other diseases such as cancer or myocardial infarct, is thus in the public’s interest. Higher levels of scientific research, delivering higher volumes of data and evidence and ever-improved drugs for the management of RMDs, will provide universal benefits.
EULAR celebrates WAD
EULAR and its members celebrate World Arthritis Day using a variety of approaches at the European and national levels in Europe in a united effort to manage RMDs together. See here Link to the Campaign website World Arthritis Day 2023 | EULAR
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World Arthritis Day 2022: What is your #RheumaPainPoint?
EULAR's WAD 2022 campaign is focused on understanding the issues the diverse audiences have in the field of rheumatology, such as a shrinking medical workforce, long waiting times for appointments, or lacking understanding of RMDs among governmental decision-makers. Better understanding these 'pain points' will allow us to better address them both at a national and international level, which is EULAR's key goal.