Healthcare is global, and rheumatology is no exception. In fact, the international implications of our activities have become a recurring theme at ACR Board of Directors discussions over the past year. Whether discussing education, research, or practice issues, ACR board members are consistently reminded of the importance of breaking down traditional silos (geographic and otherwise) and of rheumatologists joining forces not only across the country but around the world as we pursue solutions to our common challenges.
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Explore This IssueDecember 2008
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The ACR has always encouraged and nurtured a large international membership, and the ACR Annual Scientific Meeting has always been the gathering place for the international rheumatology community. In recent years, however, the ACR has visibly stepped up its international activities. Our newly established collaboration with the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) represents a landmark achievement for both organizations. This historic alliance has not only strengthened the links between the American and European rheumatology communities, but has also resulted in more robust classification and response criteria representing a broader perspective from a wide variety of rheumatologists across two continents. I believe the synergy between these two rheumatology world powers will continue to benefit rheumatologists and their patients around the world.
A central motivation underlying the growing interest in international collaboration in rheumatology is the emerging evidence of major inequalities in healthcare for rheumatic and other chronic diseases, both within and among countries. The ACR recognizes its responsibility to help advance rheumatology in areas of the world that suffer disproportionately from such inequities. Together with leaders of the African League Against Rheumatism (AFLAR), the Asia Pacific League of Associations for Rheumatology (APLAR), EULAR, and the Panamerican League of Associations for Rheumatology (PANLAR), the ACR has led an initiative to restructure and reinvigorate the International League of Associations for Rheumatology (ILAR). The new ILAR now has a more focused mission to advance rheumatology in developing countries. The ACR provides administrative and management support to the new ILAR at no charge. The new ILAR Executive Committee consists of the presidents and presidents-elect of the ACR, AFLAR, APLAR, EULAR, and PANLAR.
Renewed Enthusiasm for ILAR’s Mission
The collaboration among the leaders of these international organizations demonstrates a renewed commitment to support programs that advance the clinical practice and education of rheumatology in countries where there is an exceptional need. As someone who was born and grew up in one such country, Egypt, this mission has personal resonance for me.