The challenge with pre-conventions is coming up with a program that would compel participants to attend even before the formal program starts.
This year’s activity seemed to have achieved just that!
The day started with the Rheumatology Workshop for Nurses (WFN) which sought to introduce rheumatology nursing to the country. It started with discussions on what rheumatology is and the unique role nurses play in the care of patients with rheumatic diseases. This was followed by comprehensive lectures on available therapies for rheumatic patients and their indications for use. Around lunch time, nurse-attendees received an orientation and demonstration of locally available biologic therapies from industry partners – Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer, Celltrion and Novartis. The workshop ended with discussions on post-it fusion/ injection care and an introduction to how the health care team assesses response.
At around lunch time, the Rheumatology Course for Clinicians started. Physicians were given refreshers on how to approach patients coming in for various musculoskeletal complaints – the general approach, acute monoarthrtis, chronic mono- & polyarthritis, and low back pain. As an added treat, resident attendees were given a rheumatology review to help them study for their Boards.
The highlight of the day’s activity was, of course, the Opening Ceremonies. This year was a continuation of previous years’ efforts to introduce more “pomp” and “ceremony” to the opening activities. It started with the Processional of the Organizing Committee, Board of Trustees, Past Presidents, the Current President then the Guest of Honor. Medals to past presidents were re introduced this year – going green instead of the previous predominantly red design. This was followed by the induction of new diplomates and fellows. This year’s batch was special as it’s the first time in years that many pediatric rheumatologists were inducted as PRA Fellows. Dr. Leonila Dans beamed with pride as she welcomed, not one but, 6 new pediatric rheumatologists as fellows. The Association then proceeded to award Certificates of Accreditation to East Avenue Medical Center (provisional 1 year) and USTH Pediatric Rheumatology (full 3 years).
APLAR President Elect Prof. Syed Atiqul Haq gave this year’s Dr Lourdes Manahan Memorial Lecture. He gave an insightful and inspiring talk on how developing countries contribute to the growth of APLAR. He ended his speech by suggesting ways Filipino rheumatologists can help advance and promote the subspecialty and help the growth of the regional organization. It appeared that by advocating rheumatology locally we are already adding to the progress of the subspecialty in the Asia Pacific Region. And the only added step being requested of us, is to engage and share more of our talents and successes with APLAR.
The opening ceremonies was also special as it was the launch of PRA’s Compilations of Essays, entitled “Foundations”. Past Presidents and people close to them wrote about their efforts, struggles and successes in bringing the Association to where it is now. Dr. Leonila Dans also had a contribution – sharing the challenges of caring for children with rheumatic diseases. The last essay was that of PRA’s current President, Dr. Heizel Manapat-Reyes, who shared her insights on why we must learn of the past in order for us to have firm foundations in moving towards the future. Several members were seen approaching the Pillars of PRA requesting autographs on their features #FanBoy #FanGirl.
To keep with the academic theme, Dr Raveendran Ramachandran, a Malaysian rheumatologist, shared his experiences in switching biologic treatments in rheumatoid arthritis. Board Member Dr. Evan Vista ably moderated the session.
The night ended with the Over all Chair of the Organizing Committee, Dr Emmanuel Perez, inviting everyone to enjoy the 2 day PRA Annual Meeting by highlighting the interesting topics and speakers.
And as tonight was Chinese New Year’s Eve, dragon dancers ended the program.
The organizers look forward to everyone learning and participating in the advancement of rheumatology in the country by attending the formal program which starts tomorrow.