“Rheumatologists are a fraternity, we are siblings bound by science and heart”
Aníbal Ruiz Moreno, 1942.
A day is a period of time, not more than what it takes for the Earth to complete one full rotation on its axis. Ever since ancient times that is one of the ways to organize time. Every day is the same in terms of the physical fact of the Earth’s turn unless, for any reason, we want to affix a meaning, a special significance, to them and make them commemorative days, such as someone’s birthday, the birth of an institution, a battle or a past event that somehow influences our present and will influence our future.
May is a special month to draw attention to rheumatic diseases. At present, there are several commemorative days aimed at increasing knowledge of these diseases.
May 5th is Ankylosing Spondylitis Day, May 10th is World Lupus day, May 12this Fibromyalgia Day, among others. May is also a very important month for PANLAR for two reasons: on May 31st, 1944, after a great deal of very hard work by the committee in charge of its study, what was originally called the Pan-American League for the Study and Control of Rheumatic Diseases was officially approved, and would be announced to the world community in a publication in the Journal of the American Medical Association, JAMA, with its present name the Pan-American League of Associations for Rheumatology in June that same year, thus becoming the first regional league created by ILAR (the International League of Associations for Rheumatology), the mother organization in the fight against arthritis and rheumatism.
May 31st is also the birthday of one of its founders, Dr. Aníbal Ruiz Moreno, considered the father of the organization, who was born on that date in Cordoba, Argentina. Dr. Ruiz Moreno was also the person who conceived the idea of bringing together a group of people bound by science and heart.
This was the main motivation to symbolically choose, as the day to commemorate our history, the birthday of the man who envisaged having a supra-society to bring together all the national societies dedicated to the study of our specialty. It was based on the need to gain greater presence amongst the general public, and May 31st was chosen as the Pan-American rheumatology day.
A day that aims to promote the need of having wider knowledge, to discuss and advance in our specialty. It is a day of promotion of global rheumatology. A type of annual reboot of our history.
This day is conceived as a space to further develop our interest in communication, in order to get the different contemporary society actors to take an interest in rheumatology, either in some pathologies or in the services and projects of the league. Having an entire day of supranationalism makes us stronger to spread our message across the continent, reaching all types of potential stakeholders.
We aim to have messages from the different stakeholders in rheumatism related issues. The slogan “We are all PANLAR” brings together our community, including our patients, united by science and heart.
We know that this is a very broad topic and we believe in having a different theme every year. This way, we will develop a culture of communication, encouraging knowledge on rheumatology and reaching different social groups. We are also aware – and this serves as motivation – that the lower the education levels, the worse the progressions of the pathologies is. That is why we consider it necessary to promote widespread knowledge, empowering the general population to have an increased health knowledge regarding different types of rheumatism.
One day is a good opportunity to change our understanding on a subject. Many times, a newspaper headline, a press briefing on TV, radio or social media is enough. We need something that for a single moment evokes rheumatology, since we are convinced that this way, we will gain a space in the collective mind.
Once we have achieved continuity with this date, we will focus on the task of creating awareness, gaining a strong presence at all social levels and reaching decision centers with higher impact. We will very likely have more echo in the decision-making processes.
Further, a day dedicated to rheumatology aims to have a window for the promotion of the needs of rheumatology in our territory, enhanced awareness of the different pathologies and their relation with patients. It is also a call to vocation, since we are trying to seduce and attract new talents that, either as specialists, patients, coaches or other areas, which can help us in this challenging task. It is a day of love, it is a space to cultivate the spirit of the specialty amongst different actors, whether doctors or otherwise.
May is a month for rheumatic diseases and May 31st, the birthday of Anibal Ruiz Moreno, has been declared by our Executive Committee as the Pan-American Day of Rheumatology, a special day for a living community in which each of its members continues, from its own perspective, stimulating, promoting and supporting research, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of all those living with rheumatic conditions.
It is a day to commemorate the spirit of our specialty, all those things that make us different and also part of the same group. A community that continues to grow and that after 75 years continues to be characterized by its passion, knowledge and fraternity among its members.