The attendance of Dr. Lourdes Manahan at the Austalian Rheumatism Congress in Sydney in 1963 initiated moves for the organization of the Philippine Rheumatism Association (PRA). This was accomplished following several meetings of ten doctors – consisting of rheumatologists, internists, orthopedic surgeons and physiatrists. The PRA was inaugurated on May 27, 1964 with the first president of the Southeast Asia and Pacific Area League Against Rheumatism (SEAPAL), Dr. Selwyn Nelson, as guest speaker and Dr. Lourdes A. Manahan, as its first president.
The objectives of the Philippine Rheumatism Association were:
- To establish and maintain an organization of physicians for the advancement of the science of rheumatology, and to promote the ethical and competent practice of its art
- To maintain the highest standards of the practice of rheumatology
- To maintain a high standard of medical training in the field of rheumatology in coordination with other centers for training and education
- To foster a program of research in the rheumatic diseases
- To cooperate or affiliate with other regional and international organizations bearing similar activities
- To generate public interest through dissemination of information relative to the rheumatic diseases
- To assist similar health care programs of national agencies, government or private
- To cultivate among its members the spirit of cordiality and brotherhood
The members of what is now the Philippine Rheumatology Association (PRA) is composed of doctors whose main interests are the rheumatic diseases. It’s members had undergone training in the field of rheumatology and clinical immunology for at least two years and had passed the board examination given by the Philippine Specialty Board of Rheumatology (PSBR). But prior to being eligible for the board examination given by the PSBR, members must have passed the examination given by the Philippine Specialty Board of Internal Medicine (PSBIM) and must be certified as a diplomate or fellow of the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP).
The Association was admitted as a member of the SEAPAL and the International League Against Rheumatism (ILAR) during the 11th Congress of Rheumatology held in Mardel Plata in 1965.
Since then, the PRA has spearheaded concerted efforts against rheumatic disorders in the Philippines. Later on, the Association felt that it was ready to undertake a bigger role in the rheumatology world. The PRA hosted the very succesful 4th SEAPAL Congress at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in January 1980. And recently, the Asia Pacific League of Associations for Rheumatology (APLAR) Congress at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Cebu in April 2014.
Today, the PRA stands on solid foundation to continue the work which was clearly elucidated during its founding. The objectives which were set forth as guide posts for the organization still ring true and relevant more than half a century later. The Association has evolved into a more structured, cohesive organization which makes it more able to do its role in serving various stake holders within the organization and beyond, the medical community and the public.
Taken from the Archives of the PRA Secretariat (modified from the souvenir program for the 22nd PRA Annual Meeting held in Iloilo City last February 2016)