Indian Rheumatology Association

The Indian Rheumatology Association

The Professional Organization of Rheumatologists and other Health Professionals in India

President's Message

Dear Friends,

The specialty of Rheumatology& Clinical Immunology in India is in its adulthood. A humble beginning made by our founding fathers years ago has transformed Indian rheumatology today into a force to reckon with. I am a witness to this revolution due to my active involvement inthe affairs of Indian Rheumatology Association (IRA) for more than 25 years. Like any specialty, rheumatology also has its science, arts and,unfortunately, the commerce components; in the next few paragraphs, I am expressing my vision for IRA for next 2 years to address these issues.

While scientific and biology based approach is the key and the best approach to health care, the clouding effect by so called ‘natural therapy’, alternative systems,superstitions and pseudoscience based beliefsare terribly disturbing and confounding to patients’mindset. Politically powerful faith healersare burgeoning into the so called ‘God industry‘ making huge business across our nation.Unregulated internet is another boon in disguise for anti-science power lobby, which again confuse the patients in epidemic proportions. While we are for scientific research in traditional medicine, we are against use of any unproven agents and therapy subjecting patients to harm of toxic agents and often fooling lay patients by ‘placebo effects’.

What IRA can do in this regard?.

Patient pro initiative : We,the office bearers of IRA are planning to start a joint initiative by patients, care givers and health care providers in rheumatology in this direction to accomplish our patient advocacy mission. This will ensure a healthy ongoing dialogue between patients and all stake holders in rheumatology to bridge the gap of mistrust which is widespread in our society, often ignited by vested interests.

This cell shall explore possibilities of negotiating with the government regarding subsidising cost of treatment, insurance cover for patients with preexisting diseases and education to remove misconcepts as well as empower patients with self care and self-assessment of disease activity.

Ethics &Pseudo ethics : On the darker side, the commerce componentof medicine has afflicted the health care in general. We are for strict ethical rheumatology practice and will have aethics cell to ensure that pseudo ethics don’tover power ethics & our colleagues are clear about the razor thin margin between ethical and ‘not so ethical’ practice.Pseudo ethics is often an confounder in this area & there will be no place for that in Indian Rheumatology.

Relevant research : in rheumatology is another area we would like to embark upon. We are forming a research cell to encourage and explore research funding on India-centric clinical &translational research. All special interest groups of IRA will be the core resource personnel of this cell.

Education : is our prime objective and IRA education cell will form the nidus for IRA college of Rheumatology. This cell will work towards formulating a 2 year comprehensive postdoctoral fellowship programme/ Advanced training in Rheumatology & Clinical Immunology for physicians/ pediatricians across the nation. This cell will function as the faculty council of the college will ensure minimum standard, guidelines of entrance and exit exams, syllabus and necessary accreditation normswith the help of expert team. This is to meet the need for acute shortage of rheumatologists in the country without compromising quality. In addition, the college will have several other academic activities including restricted honorary fellowships for highly accomplished senior rheumatologists.

IRA central scientific cell : will regulate and co-ordinate all IRACON scientificprogrammes from now on with a smooth ongoing dialogue with local Organizing committee.

IRA central coordination cell : A central cell will also coordinate with all state & local chapters of IRA.

IRA central database cell : will be formed as a funded initiative to create National database of common rheumatic diseases, which will evolve into national registries of rheumatic diseases in future.

Finance Cell : Regarding financial approach, we would like a centralized funding for all IRA activities to make things transparent and clear; all contribution and sponsorships should come to central IRA body. This will ensure legally and ethically correct path for all willing to contribute and participate in IRA activities.

Central secretariat & Office space : IRA needs a central Secretariat and a office and we are working towards it to streamline things. Apart from our vision of a functioningIRA college with a core educational cell as its faculty council, national rheumatology database cell, research cell, patient advocacy cell,ethics cell, central scientific cell, IRA central coordination cell & finance cell, we also wish to have a legal cell, an international cell, national intersociety cell and a media/ communication cell.

2 year is a short period & every day counts in realising these dreams.

I shall involve many distinguished mentors, senior&junior colleagues in these cells for advice and we will walk through the path of our clearly defined goals, vision & mission. Friends and colleagues, please join me in this mission with an untiring spirit to fulfill all our dreams to make the specialty of rheumatology & IRA as models for others to emulate.

Dr. Debashish Danda

MD, DM, FRCP, FACR, FAMS

President , Indian Rheumatology Association

Email : president.indian.rheumatology@gmail.com

Ex-Vice President & Treasurer, Asia Pacific League of Associations for Rheumatology (APLAR)

Editor in Chief, International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases (IJRD)

Professor & Head, Clinical Immunology & Rheumatology, Christian Medical college & Hospital, Vellore, India