by David Borenstein, MD
Rheumatic diseases, arthritis and other diseases of the muscles, joints and bones are common and have tremendous impact on the health and wellbeing of 50 million Americans.
And yet, despite how common these diseases are,awareness – which can lead to earlier diagnosis, better treatments and improved outcomes, more research funding and a steady supply of physicians trained to treat these diseases – isn’t as high as it should be. Through our combined advocacy efforts, the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and the Arthritis Foundation are working to change that.
From advocating for specific legislation to meeting with lawmakers on the Hill to participating in arthritis-related coalitions, both the ACR and the Arthritis Foundation understand that educating Congress requires a sustained effort to create change.
Currently, the ACR and the Arthritis Foundation are working to educate Congress on the importance of arthritis awareness by encouraging membership in the Congressional Arthritis Caucus. In order to ensure pediatric rheumatology is a viable specialty, we have worked together (and with other pediatric groups) to secure authorization of a loan repayment program, and are now seeking appropriations for the program. Finally, both organizations understand how vital research is to ensuring better treatments, and hopefully, one day, a cure for these diseases. We have also worked together on the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) Coalition, advocating for increased research funding for arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions and supporting this important effort at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
These are messages Congress needs to hear, and to hear often. We value our partnership with the Arthritis Foundation on these important advocacy efforts, and the wonderful opportunities for rheumatologists, health professionals and individuals with these diseases to work together to advance awareness of arthritis and rheumatic disease. Together our voice is stronger.