In conjunction with the opening of the 68th World Health Assembly, the International Federation of Psoriasis Associations, IFPA, has launched an issue brief on psoriatic arthritis, calling the international community to action.
"The 67th World Health Assembly adopted a resolution on psoriasis, in which it was recognized that a large portion of people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis, which can lead to permanent disfigurement and disability. For the global psoriasis community it is important to raise awareness of the added burden of psoriatic arthritis, that so many of us struggle with", says Lars Ettarp, President of IFPA.
Despite being the second most common inflammatory joint disease, causing stiffness, swelling and pain in and, in many cases, disability, many are still unaware of the burden psoriatic arthritis puts on both the individual and society. Many who suffer from psoriatic arthritis are unable to work due to this disabling condition and require frequent and expensive treatments.
Dr Philip Helliwell, of the Leeds Institute of Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Medicine at the University of Leeds, comments: "Almost a third of people with psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis yet half of these people will have a considerable delay in diagnosis and treatment. This will lead to irreversible joint damage. Since effective treatments are available it is imperative that people with psoriatic arthritis are identified and referred as soon as possible. In order for this to happen we need wider education of both people with psoriasis, and health professionals who are consulted."
Policy makers, health care professionals and the public needs to understand and recognize that the long-term outcomes of the disease can be severe, marked by disease progression, increasing disability, comorbidities, poor quality of life, inability to work and increased treatment costs. It is IFPA's hope that this issue brief will help patient organizations all over the world in their advocacy and awareness efforts to improve the situation for people with psoriatic arthritis.
Maarten de Wit, longtime patient advocate and past Vice President of the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR), welcomes the call to action: "As a person with psoriatic arthritis since the age of 15, I have experienced how the disease has impacted my personal life. Not being able anymore to work as a company trainer, I suffered from enduring pain, fatigue, social isolation and feelings of depression. Surgery, moving to a house with all facilities on the ground floor and finally the start of new effective medicines, has changed my life. I am now able to contribute again to society and to enjoy life."
About the issue brief:
The issue brief, titled "A need for global awareness to lift the burden of psoriatic arthritis on the individual and society" is published in conjunction to this year's World Health Assembly, and is available for download from IFPA's website.
Calls for action in the issue brief:
- Recognize that psoriatic arthritis is a serious disabling disease with a major impact on the individual as well as on society
- Include psoriatic arthritis in health policies and disability forums
- Support awareness campaigns to educate patients and health care professionals about psoriatic arthritis to ensure early diagnosis and effective treatment.