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The Annals of the Rheumatic Diseasesis now the official journal of the European League against Rheumatism (EULAR). This is a hallmark for both EULAR and theAnnals. EULAR, the umbrella organisation of the European professional societies dealing with rheumatic diseases is of growing importance for European rheumatology. This certainly relates to the continuing integration process between European countries, which has far reaching consequences for national health care systems and therefore for patients and doctors. It also will deeply influence medical education and specialist training. These developments make it necessary that EULAR has its own journal. It seems appropriate that theAnnals of the Rheumatic Diseases, being the oldest international European rheumatology journal in English, will serve this purpose. In its new function the journal will remain in the first place a good scientific journal. The editorial team will do their utmost best to even improve quality and impact. It follows from the above that education will be an important task of the journal as well. This year we hope to start with a Series on Education, written by leading figures in the field. In addition we are planning educational reviews and other teaching activities.
Rheumatology nowadays is a dynamic specialty. Inflammatory rheumatic diseases, notably rheumatoid arthritis, are increasingly better controllable and the future looks bright if biological agents, notably TNFα blocking agents, keep their initial promises. The development of increasingly faster working drugs and biologics certainly forms a new challenge to the profession and makes new skills mandatory, like the fine tuning of monitoring inflammatory rheumatic diseases.
A major challenge in the future will be the demographic changes in Western countries. In the not too distant future most European countries will face a doubling of the elderly population. As many rheumatic diseases are age related and others because of their chronicity, cumulate in the elderly, this will have major consequences for rheumatology as a specialty. Needless to say that these developments are major challenges for both health care systems and all those working in medicine in the broadest sense.
In this Bone and Joint Decade it is of utmost importance to pay adequate attention to those many millions suffering from rheumatic diseases. In Europe EULAR will be of growing importance in that respect. The Annals is proud to be the EULAR Journal from now on.