Background Lithuanian arthritis association was founded in 1997 early spring. It came up from the initiative of the specialists rheumatologists and have extended to a widely known, independent and respectful non-governmental association.
Objectives It’s fifteenth anniversary is a perfect moment to make some reflections on it’s activities.
Methods The ovierview of fitheen years activity is presented.
Results LAA took it’s start from a group of patients in Vilnius. Up to now around 2000 of middle aged people and their family members are actively participating in the activities of the organization. LAA is now considered as a umbrella organization leading another nine organizations in the country. The organization has got a clearly stated structure where the main body is the board and the board members are leaders of branch organizations. They usually come together once per quarter to decide upon future activities. The organization releases a magazine of Artritas which grew up from one to four issues per year.
LAA always considered patients education as it’s main priority. Patient education and physical activity is carried along with EULAR initiative Move and Improve. It is not just talking about diseases, it is about doing. LAA members are involved and supported by local authorities to maintain their physical abilities by participating in the training groups. This is not only indoor exercises but outside activities and pool exercises as well. Each year the LAA association is organizing the Health campus at the Baltic Sea where the delegates from each branch organization get together. The last year the health campus was organized already for eleventh year. The duration of our campus is usually 10 days. It brings together people of different interests and physical capabilities but they are united by one idea to improve their health by being together and being physically active.
LAA works a lot for rising the awareness of rheumatic diseases. The main conference which is held on World Arthritis Day (WAD), October 12th, offers the opportunity to speak out about the problems that the organization is facing. In 2012 the WAD conference was held in the Parlament with political parties’ members active participation and Waving for world arthritis day action was broadcasted through Parlament TV. The conference hosted almost 300 hundred people inviting much more participants than the year ago.
Other EULAR activities like EULAR Charter for work or Let’s work together or Small things matter were supported by our members. One of the main European event that took place in Lithuania and was hosted by LAA was EULAR patients (previously APOM) autumn conference in 2007. This is considered as a great respect and acknowledgement to our organization. The conference brought a travelling exhibition Women in RA to Lithuania, which was hosted in the main Vilnius hospital and Medical library as well.
LAA is taking a lot of initiatives by itself. In 2009 “White Gloves” initiative was presented at press conference to demonstrate for the media what it means to live with ill hands. LAA is participating in Fit for work project which aims to bring all patients suffering with arthritis back to work.
Conclusions During fifteen years LAA has grown up into a strong and trustful organization. It’s well defined structure and plan of activities is supported by members and specialist organization. Some challenges are foreseen with respect to the aging members of branch organizations.
Disclosure of Interest None Declared
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