To date, adequate healthcare delivery among persons with rheumatic diseases has not been fully addressed. Historically, national health programs do not include rheumatic conditions among the priority list of diseases. There is a general lack of public awareness wherein rheumatic diseases are lumped together in one local term merely named “rayuma”.
This compromises the early detection and treatment of the more serious conditions such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), rheumatoid arthritis, connective tissue diseases and spondyloarthropathies like psoriatic arthritis. In addition, global and local data places rheumatic diseases as the major cause of loss of productivity and morbidity adding significantly to the total economic burden and impairment of the patient’s quality of life.
The Lupus Inspired Advocacy (LUISA) has been at the forefront of championing the causes of persons afflicted with Lupus or SLE in the Philippines. From inception, its founders headed by Dr. Sandra V. Navarra and Ma. Luisa Cojuangco-Cruz, the organization has made great strides such as successfully earmarking February as Lupus Advocacy month via a presidential proclamation. People Empowerment for Arthritis and Lupus (PEARL) is an advocacy led and composed by the concerted efforts of impassioned healthcare professionals, patients and caregivers that is envisioned to be a long standing movement for the betterment of the plight among individual with chronic rheumatic conditions locally with a global perspective. Specific programs have been laid out and initiated namely the Arthritis and lupus Clinics with specialty medical consultations, lectures, and support group activities. The “Living Well” Workshops where patients and caregivers share experiences and meaningful strategies to cope with the illness. The PEARL Forums showcase the artistry of patients despite their debilitating illness and the Indigence Fund providing assistance for medical needs of financially challenged patients.
Most likely, everyone knows someone who is suffering from a chronic debilitating rheumatic disease thus; a call for volunteers and donors is needed and most welcome. Let us look behind their deformity and we should accept them for what they are you would be surprised at how talented they are.