4th Crete – Cyprus symposium of Rheumatology
Two patient organizations, members of AGORA, participated actively in the annual Crete-Cyprus Symposium of Rheumatology. which took place in the beautiful tourist resort, Hersonisos in Crete, 11-13 May 2012. Both the ARTHRITIS FOUNDATION OF CRETE and the CYPRUS LEAGUE AGAINST RHEUMATISM were involved in organizing, presenting and contributing to this constructive event, which was carried out successfully for the fourth consecutive year.
“Dilemmas and Concerns in Everyday Practice of Rheumatology” was the main subject of the Symposium, in which rheumatologists and nursing staff from the islands of Cyprus and Crete, as well as from other parts of Greece exchanged knowledge, new findings and experiences so that they may be enabled to provide optimal healthcare to people with Rheumatic Diseases.
For us, the associations that are fighting for the rights of patients, higher healthcare standards and improvement in the quality of our lives, it’s significant to point out that the last day, Sunday, was devoted solely to the main concerns of people with RMDs. We were pleased that approximately, 120 members of the Arthritis Foundation of Crete from different prefectures of Crete were able to attend the last day’s presentations and take part in the open discussion that ensued.
The day began with five eloquent speakers providing us, the patients, with invaluable information, some of which we would not have had access to otherwise. Miss Jill Firth from London gave the first presentation on the ongoing training and the benefits of specialized nursing staff who are specifically equipped to handle patient queries and thus alleviate the stress and resolve problems that patients may have. That is something we, in Greece, should strive to achieve some day. Miss E. Bitsiou spoke on behalf of Pfizer, sponsor of the Symposium, on the socioeconomic impact of RMDs in Greece and the new developments in healthcare. She was followed by the chair of the Arthritis Foundation of Crete, Miss K Koutsogianni, who elaborated on the changes and new issues that prevail in the healthcare system in Greece and more specifically, in Crete. The fourth topic was presented by Miss E. Konstantinou, who explained the national strategic plan for facing RMDs effectively that was recently adopted by the Ministry of Health of Cyprus. Last but not least, Miss Maria Batsiou, chair of EULAR-PARE, was kind enough to update us on the goals of PARE and the five-year plan of action of EULAR.
The final part of the Symposium and highlight of the day was the session of questions and answers between medical experts and patients, coordinated by Dr. Boumpas and the chairman of the Cyprus League Against Rheumatism, Mr. Marios Kouloumas. Due to the large number of patients present, not all of us had the opportunity to express our views or raise our concerns, nevertheless, we feel that we gained greater insights into the workings of the healthcare system and benefited from both the presentations and the discussion.
After the Symposium, the members of the Arthritis Foundation of Crete enjoyed a guided tour of the traditional village of “Lychnostatis” and a meal at a local restaurant. I must admit that by afternoon, most of us were exhausted owing to health problems, but at the same time, greatly satisfied to know that things are being done to improve the state in which we ate. We look forward to next year’s Symposium in Cyprus and hope to see some of you there!
Roula Angelidaki Stara
vice-chair of the ARTHRITIS FOUNDATION OF CRETE