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
Too many remain undiagnosed in the EU alone with an RMD. With an estimated one-hundred million currently undiagnosed and trying to cope with symptoms that are often overlooked – and frequently misdiagnosed. A large part of the world’s population is affected by diseases that impact their quality of life and participation in society – including access to the world of work. An inability to work reduces the self-esteem of the individual – and increases their dependency on state welfare, the healthcare system and their family and friends. People living with an RMD are therefore left unaware of their symptoms, opportunities for diagnosis and treatment, as well as the way to develop and execute a career plan to achieve independence.
Health Professionals in Rheumatology (HPR)
Seeking help to the health care system for those seeking help with unidentified symptoms is usually a family doctor. Healthcare systems are however often ill-equipped to provide the diagnosis, access, care and treatment necessary to support those affected by RMD. Medical education has very little RMD teaching; this means that symptoms often go unintentionally undetected, misdiagnosed or wrongly treated. 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 to those trained in the RMD area are at a distinct disadvantage in their lives as a result.
Research outcomes are positive in RMD therapies that have been made in recent decades; effective drugs, strategy including the delivery of care, physical therapy, nutrition, and psychological help are available. These discoveries are however little known outside the field of rheumatology, and access to public funding for rheumatology-focused research continues to be limited. There are a high number of co-morbidities experienced by those with an RMD, including cancer, which, like an RMD, has its root cause in inflammation in the body. The ability to better research RMDs and their role in causing inflammation in the body, thereby also helping to reduce the impact of other diseases such as cancer, is in the interest of all citizens. Higher levels of scientific research, delivering higher volumes of data and evidence and ever-improved drugs for the management of RMDs, will bring benefit to all societal systems – and all people.
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.