The highly successful “Don’t Delay, Connect Today” cam- paign, launched by EULAR in 2017 to raise awareness about
rheumatic musculoskeletal diseases
(RMDs), is introducing a new theme.
At the 2019 EULAR Congress, the
announcement of the Time2Work
theme will be accompanied with
newly completed videos to dramatise
how people with RMDs cope with
their disabilities at work.
“We selected the theme because
of the evidence that RMDs cause
many individuals to work less or stop
work entirely and represent a major burden on patient health, social
systems, and society as a whole,”
explained Marios Kouloumas, president of the Cyprus League Against
Rheumatism, board member of the
People with Arthritis and Rheumatism in Europe (PARE), and chairman
of the Don’t Delay, Connect Today
“We know that those who leave
work due to RMDs have a diminished
quality of life. We are planning this
campaign as a tool to draw attention to the benefits of diagnosis and
treatment,” he added. Althouigh there
will be sneak previews of the day-in-the-life videos shown in the EULAR
Village, Mr. Kouloumas said that the
official debut is planned for World
Arthritis Day on 12 October, 2019.
The EULAR Congress in Madrid,
with more than 14,000 participants,
provides an ideal venue to broadcast
important messages of the Time-
2Work theme in anticipation of World
Arthritis Day. From its inception, the
Don’t Delay, Connect Today campaign
has engaged all three EULAR pillars,
which includes health professionals
and scientific societies along with
PARE, to reach individuals about the
importance of early diagnosis and
treatment of RMDs.
“Allowing patients to work or return
to work is an important strategy that
conveys the message that the large
clinical and financial burden imposed
by rheumatic diseases can be reduced,” Mr. Kouloumas added.
The documentary-style videos are
expected to be a powerful tool, recounting the stories of four individuals with RMDs living in Europe. These
videos provide faces to explain the
challenges of living and working with
RMDs, delivering a visceral message
about impact of this disease.
“The videos represent one tool
for our messaging and part of the
larger campaign,” according to Mr.
Kouloumas. In addition to handouts
available in the EULAR Village, where
the videos will be running throughout
the 2019 congress, Mr. Kouloumas
explained that 11 national member
organisations of PARE have been
awarded grants to build campaigns
around the topic. Many of the strate-
gies focus on World Arthritis Day.
Consistent with the sharing of best
practices amongst PARE organisa-
tions, each individual campaign can
be adopted by other organisations.
The ultimate goal is to create noise
around the Time2Work initiative spe-
cifically and with the Don’t Delay,
Connect Today campaign overall.
“By educating individuals with
RMDs, they can be empowered. The
larger goal is to ensure that patients
with RMDs have access to effective
care,” Mr. Kouloumas said.
The campaign has a political component. While the Don’t Delay, Connect Today was initiated to encourage
undiagnosed patients with RMDs to
seek care, there is an additional task
of ensuring that care is available. This
involves enlisting elected officials to
“The Time2Work messaging of
the Don’t Delay, Connect Today campaign is one tool for interest groups
reaching out to policymakers to make
them aware of the need for action,”
Mr. Kouloumas explained. The specific needs may differ by country,
but the fundamental message is the
“Enabling people with RMDs to
take part fully in activities of daily liv-
ing – including work – is a core issue.
More than 120 million individuals in
Europe have RMDs,” Mr. Kouloumas
said. “The Don’t Delay, Connect
Today campaign is one way we can
advocate for improved care.”
Social channels in support of the
campaign have been set up on Face-
book, Twitter, and Instagram, using
labels that include the World Arthritis
Day and #Connect Today.
Don’t Delay, Connect Today campaign
turns a spotlight on work