Nearly 2 million andalusians suffer from rheumatic diseases, as it’s estimated that these pathologies affect one of four people (over 20 years old), which reflects their high prevalence, while at the same time they are “great unknown”. Also, “the most frequent ones, such as osteoarthritis are related to the progressive aging of the population and changes lifestyles, which is why they are expected to grow in the coming years”, as has warned today the Spanish Society of Rheumatology president Dr. José Vicente moreno Muelas during the presentation of the XLI National Congress in Seville.
“These diseases are highly disabling and have a frequent tendency to become chronic. That’s why it’s necessary to improve wellness, as well as to provide a sufficient number of specialists to the health system, since many regions have a number of rheumatologist lower than recommended”, said Dr. Federico Navarro, president of the Local Organizing Committee of the XLI SER Congress.
In Dr. Moreno’s opinion, “despite the fact that great progress has been made in terms of diagnostics, it’s still essential to increase patient information and provide the necessary mean to Rheumatology Services and Units to help the accessibility of patients to new advances and to avoid detection delays.
Ser president says that we must be optimistic, since great advances have been made, especially in the field of therapeutics with the incorporation of biological treatment that have improved the quality of life and life expectancy in a large number of patients with inflammatory rheumatic diseases. Regarding to the current economic situation “from SER we express our unequivocal commitment to the sustainability of the health system of our country and we align ourselves with measures that, without reducing wellness are aimed at ensuring its continuity”, said Dr. Moreno Muelas.
“In this new scenario of increasing the therapeutic offer of biologics because of the arrival of biosimilars, we consider it essential to preserve the freedom of doctor’s prescription, who are the ones who have to decide which one is the best treatment for each patient, without forgetting the economic aspect that derive from it action”. Also, “the only one who must decide which treatment is prescribed in each case must be the doctor”, he said.
The number of rheumatologists currently working in the Andalusian Health Service is around 90 specialists for a population of 8.400.000 in 2014. It means one for every 97.000 population “which is a considerable deficit in comparison with other Spanish regions” Dr. Antonio Fernández Nebro, Andalusian Society of Rheumatology President said.
In order to guarantee proper patient care, the World Health Organization and SER have established standards for the number of recommended rheumatologists, specifically 1 per 40.000/50.000 cases. In other words, the number of rheumatologists in Andalusia should almost double in order to provide proper care.
Dr. Fernández Nebro explained that “the deficit is to find above all in the regional hospitals in which there are no Rheumatology Units as such; there are only 5 regionals hospitals in Andalusia that have a rheumatologist but within the Traumatology Service, a different speciality”. On the other hand, the distribution of rheumatologists it “very heterogeneous” among the different provinces since, for example, Seville has one rheumatologists for every 64.525 while Huelva has only one for every 183.000 or Málaga one for every 133.000.
Rheumatology is a living specialty in which constant developments occur every year, therefore, the objective of this XLI Congress of the SER is to address the latest advances in the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic diseases through symposia, round tables, conferences and workshops, etc., as explained by Dr. Federico Navarro Sarabia.
The opening ceremony, on Wednesday 20th May at 07:45 pm, will be attended by Professor Leopoldo abadía who will talk about Innovation as a driving force for economic recovery, in a talk moderated by the actress and presenter Ana Milán.
During the Congress, which will bring more than 1.000 specialists, they will be discussed basic aspects such as genetics or disease mechanisms, new recommendations and consensus, advances in the care of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, and on arthritis in childhood, gout, fibromyalgia or metabolic bone diseases. And they will have special focus on early diagnosis in rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis or spondyloarthritis.
“This year two novelties should be highlighted: the exhibition of accepted papers or posters on electronic screens, as well as the concept of a Congress that does not stop, with scientific activities without interruption, on a continuous basis,” said Dr. Navarro.
The lectures will focus on ‘What we learned about the toxic oil syndrome’ and on ‘The Neanderthal genome and its inheritance in modern humans’, given by Prof. Juan J. Gómez-Reino Carnota, from the Rheumatology Service of the Hospital Clínico Universitario de Santiago, and by the biologist Carles Lalueza Fox, from the Institute of Evolutionary Biology, the CSIC, and the Pompeu Fabra University.
There will be three ‘Best of the Year’ sessions in: systemic lupus erythematosus and vasculitis; rheumatoid arthritis and spondyloarthritis; and systemic sclerosis and myopathies. Practical workshops will also be organized on the use of ultrasound to assess inflammation and tendon structural damage, the use of new technologies, simple radiology of the hands and feet, among others.
In the day before the Congress (May 19), a refresher course will be developed that will deal with topics such as early diagnosis in psoriatic arthritis, rheumatic disease in transplanted patients, management of patients under biological treatment, etc.
Source: Spanish Society of Rheumatology