Arthritis is the swelling or inflammation of one or more joints in our bodies. It can be an acute or chronic condition with the latter requiring maintenance medication. While elevated, the true diagnosis and census of arthritis in Filipinos may be under-reported. Contrary to common local beliefs, arthritis is not limited to those with unhealthy habits, such as: eating too much “lamang-loob”, not having an active lifestyle, and those who don’t maintain a balanced diet.
Last October, Johnson & Johnson Philippines together with the Philippine Department of Health (DOH), the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP), Philippine Rheumatology Association (PRA), Axial Spondyloarthritis, Association of the Philippines (ASAPh), and People Empowerment for Arthritis and Lupus (PEARL) celebrated Arthritis Month with “Alis Tiis sa Arthritis: Overcoming the Burden of Joint Diseases” — an online program featured in the various DOH social media forums and in different PCP hospitals and clinics. The J&J Philippines team also helped launch the “Bone and Joint Awareness Week 2022” with ASAPh at Karamay Christian School in Quezon City, by facilitating a free medical mission targeted towards bone and joint problems.
Alis Tiis sa Arthritis: Overcoming the Burdens of Joint Disease
In line with the DOH’s vision for a Healthy Pilipinas, the partnership of DOH, J&J, PCP, and PRA was met with utmost importance. The online program targeted the lay people as well as healthcare practitioners. Rheumatology specialist lecturers Dr. Francis Martin Cuenco, Dr. Ronaldo De Vera, and Dr. Charlie Chan represented the PRA. Patient-partners Eng. Clark Ferrer and Ms. Eloisa Aguinaldo represented the ASAPh and PEARL patient support groups respectively. The webinar was moderated by rheumatologist Dr. Elaine Venegas.
Dr. Cuenco began the lecture series with a discussion on the World Arthritis Day celebration, the true definition of arthritis, the different kinds of “rayuma”, and its known symptoms, and “Ano ang Rheumatologist?”. Dr. Ronaldo De Vera gave a review for physicians on how to approach musculoskeletal pain to formulate a differential diagnosis. This was to help doctors arrive at a timely diagnosis while avoiding unnecessary laboratories or imaging. Dr. Charlie Chan’s lecture was much anticipated; and he discussed proper treatment of arthritis to eliminate the pain, swelling, and prevent permanent disability. Lifestyle modification and changes were also discussed.
Apart from doctors, the event was also a platform for patients to share their experience with rheumatologic diseases. Ms. Eloisa Aguinaldo, who was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, told her story from how she first suffered from this disease and how she went on to seek proper healthcare. Eng. Clark Ferrer shared his feelings of missing out on family and professional obligations and participations due to his Ankylosing Spondylitis. He recommended that patients who suffer from chronic back pain consult a doctor to be diagnosed and treated to prevent permanent disability. Both patients discussed how treatment with rheumatologists greatly improved their condition. They were grateful for the opportunity to present and advocate for their diseases during the program.
Ending the program, Dr. Erwin Benedicto, South East Asia medical portfolio director for J&J expressed his thanks to the whole team on behalf of J&J. “J&J is pleased to inform everyone, that we have provided a lot of innovative solutions in this area, and that we have been supporting DOH and PRA in the campaign on arthritis and specific bone diseases. We are hopeful that with this support, we can contribute to nation-building through a Healthy Pilipinas. And with that in mind, we aspire to give Filipinos that value of living a healthy lifestyle.”
Celebration of Bone and Joint Awareness Week at Karamay Christian School
The J&J team launched “Bone and Joint Awareness Week 2022” with a free medical mission and lecture in cooperation with the ASAPh, recently, at the Karamay Christian School in Quezon City. The program was headed by Eng. Clark Ferrer, president of Axial Spondyloarthritis Association of the Philippines. “This program aims to educate them about the inflammatory diseases and give them information on how to manage this disease.” said Ferrer.
Led by doctors from the Philippine Rheumatology Association, the medical mission provided consultations, free medication, and a lecture on back pain. Patients in attendance ranged from young children to the elderly. Aside from free consultation and medicine, they also attended the lecture. The session entitled “Back Talks” was conducted virtually by Dr. Ronaldo De Vera, IM and rheumatologist. He gave a timely lecture on inflammatory back pain, from the basics to the specific complications, and later gave free rheumatologic teleconsultations.
To know more about bone and joint issues, visit the Philippine Rheumatology Association’s website at https://www.rheumatologyph.org/.