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This has been a highly active period for the committee. Under the new secretariat arrangements, the committee has been able to develop its work programme in some new areas (for example, educational visit awards), in addition to developing a strategic plan. Key activities for the committee in 2002-3 include:
Developing a strategic plan. This has been a major undertaking involving a working group with representation from France, Sweden, Portugal, Poland, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The Social Leagues Committee met to discuss and agree the key aims and objectives for the next three years during special sessions at the congress.
Arthritis Patients On the Move (APOM) meetingin Lisbon 21–24 November 2002. The 5th annual conference for Social Leagues, organised with the support of Merck Sharp and Dohme, was an overwhelming success, attended by over 80 participants from 19 countries.
Developing an educational visit award scheme for Social Leagues to support organisations wishing to gain skills and expertise from other more experienced organisations. This exciting new initiative is the first of its kind for the Social Leagues Committee. Four grants (totalling €20 000 for 2002 and 2003) were awarded as follows:
– Society of Patients with Rheumatism in Poland (educational partner: Finnish Rheumatism Association)
– Hellenic and Cypriot Leagues Against Rheumatism
– Portuguese League Against Rheumatism (educational partner: Swiss League Against Rheumatism)
– Latvia and Lithuanian Leagues Against Rheumatism (educational partner: Swedish Rheumatism Association)
Collaborating with MSD on the Take Action Award. An international prize awarded to patient organisations for campaigning work which best promotes the agreed priorities of the Social Leagues.
Developing a high quality Social Leagues programme, including a scheme for awarding EULAR bursaries to attend the EULAR Congress.
Stene Prize. A Stene Prize jury chaired by Merethe Storødegård, Norway, selected Nanna Valentin Gaarde from Denmark as the 2003 Stene Prize winner.
Manifesto for people with arthritis/rheumatism in Europe. Social Leagues has continued to have a leading role in this initiative. Important developments in 2002–3 included the consensus statement on “Access to treatments” and conferences in October 2002 (Berlin) and March 2003 (Brussels).
General administration of the committee: including mailings; dealing with queries from members; liaison with other projects—for example, BJD and Manifesto; supporting officers; liaison with EULAR.