Virtual congress

 

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The non-profit organisation ClAIR which groups lupus, arthritis and scleroderma associations (among them our French-speaking Belgian member) is organising a virtual congress from tomorrow, 30th March 2018, to 13th April included.

LUPUS EUROPE will have a virtual stand in the congress. 

For more information, please see the press release: virtual congress CLAIR

The congress is held in French. To connect please click here.

To know more ?

If you would like to know more about the association ? Please visit CLAIR.be.

 

ELM 2018

690 people participated in the European Lupus Meeting in Düsseldorf last week (March 21-24). This was 50% increase in comparison to the last ELM in Venice in 2016, which indicates a rising interest in this disease. Most of the participants were lupologists from all across Europe and there were even some from Australia, North- and South America. Lupus Europe was, however, also present and represented all European lupus patients throughout the Meeting. We discussed the future of clinical trials for lupus, the patients´ role in medical research, the importance of Patient Reported Outcomes (PROs), the classification of lupus, had meetings with industry and relevant partners and many many other things… We had a crazy busy schedule, but it was extremely interesting! Thank you to the patient representatives, who volunteered to help us during this great meeting!

Call for participants in a Lupus Europe youth panel!

We still have 3-5 available positions at our Lupus Europe youth panel in May. If you meet the criteria below and fit the geographical spread you could come into consideration.

  • Are you interested in improving conditions for young people with lupus in Europe?
  • Do you have something to say and want to be heard?
  • Are you between 20 and 28 years of age?
  • Do you have lupus?

Then you need to register for Lupus Europe´s Youth Panel in Brussels May 18-20.
Contact our Secretariat at secretariat@lupus-europe.org and tell us, why you would be perfect for our panel.

 

PARE conference review

LUPUS EUROPE was present once again at this year’s PARE conference, which was held from 16th-18th February in Brussels. PARE provides an opportunity to meet with other patient organisations who are members of the PARE network, to hear the latest updates on some of the programmes, to influence PARE’s priorities for the next year, and to build on some of our skills.
The conference was opened by Ms. Marianne Thijsen, the EU commissionaire for employment and Social affairs. She highlighted the commission’s progress on defining “European pillars of social rights”, 20 statements that should guide future EU Social policy. Three of those statements are particularly relevant as anchors to our work : (i) Everyone has the right to timely access to affordable, preventive and curative health care of quality; (ii) Access to safe work environment, fit for everyone; (iii) Right to inclusion for people with disabilities (including income support that ensures living in dignity, services that enable to participate in the labour market and in society, and a work environment adapted to their needs).

Another key statement that she made is that while some would like healthcare to be left entirely up to each country, she disagrees: “Arthritis does not know borders. Pain does not ask for your passport. There is a need to tackle health together: We can learn from each other, there should be no 2nd class citizens in Europe”. This is both the recognition of a threat, and a very nice statement on the need for EU health policy.

The conference then mostly evolved around the EULAR campaign “Don’t Delay, Connect Today”. If you are not yet familiar with this European wide campaign, see more on this link and offer your full support to this important initiative. Early diagnosis is a key priority, in Lupus and other RMD’s and can save a lot of personal hardship thanks to early treatment. The delegates very largely voted for a continuation of this campaign for at least another 2 years, so we can reach a maximum number of people.

Finally, a fun souvenir starring our chair, Jeanette Andersen who is reminding us of the importance of exercise.

 

LUPUS EUROPE needs you!

 

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LUPUS EUROPE is the organisation that brings 26 national lupus groups from all over Europe together.  To better include all countries in its activities and work, it is opening up a number of interesting volunteering opportunities for members of our national groups.

There is no need to be a Lupus Expert, all that is required is the desire to contribute, and a fair (not perfect!) command of English, as well as a good internet connection 😊

Participating in a work group is great fun, and serves a real need. It will typically mean about 6 “skype calls” per year, and some work at your pace in between. We are seeking a 2-year commitment to allow for some continuity. If your workgroup requires one-shot travel within Europe, it will be fully funded. Active participation in workgroups might open up the opportunity for more travel, meetings and discoveries…

So why don’t YOU apply?

We are seeking:

3 to 4 Members for the Communication Work Group to improve overall communication – making it smoother and more regular – increasing our social media presence and LUPUS EUROPE’s visibility. The deliverables include creation and ideas but also ongoing support, which can be shared but requires consistent and planned messages showing LUPUS EUROPE’s work. Platforms include FB, twitter, the blog, youtube…  There is also an opportunity to beef up our media presence for events such as World Lupus Day and at busier times such as around the convention. You like communication and have design or communication skills? Apply to join the COMMUNICATIONS Group.

3 to 4 members for the “Kick Lupus” Work Group to bring the Kick Lupus concept alive throughout the year by developing and rolling out initiatives that make people move, fight, kick, share and take the lead to push lupus further away. You want to help people with lupus feel better and more energised, and have creative ideas and the energy to implement them? Apply to join the KICK LUPUS Group.

3 to 4 members for the “Message tracks” Work Group to develop clear communication objectives and messages that will be offered for re-use by our members. What is our message to doctors? To newly diagnosed patients? To the general public? To politicians? Working together and using the methodology presented at the end of the Milan convention, we will seek to develop message tracks, and toolkits to make deployment easier. You have ideas on what our communication priorities should be and knowledge about lupus to bring arguments to support them? You would like to put thoughts in a structured and impactful format? Apply to join the “MESSAGE TRACKS” group.

5 to 7 members for the Patient Expert Group: This call is for people living with lupus that have already significant experience and understanding of the disease mechanism, who have been (or are ready to invest in being) trained as EULAR PRP, EUPATI, Eurordis or other similar training for patients supporting research. If you are interested in contributing through closer connections with the Research community, bringing the patients voice to the design, interpretation and on-going operation of research by industry academics, apply to join the PATIENT EXPERT GROUP.

Up to 10 YOUNG people with lupus for a one-shot YOUTH PANEL, to be held in May 2018. If you are aged between 18 to 28, this is a great opportunity to meet other people that live with lupus around Europe, while raising your voice so that we better understand what it really means to live with lupus as a young person today. The 2 days will be built around interactive sessions, designed to share views, concerns, aspirations, requests… It will be led by people who have lupus themselves. Interested? Apply for the YOUTH PANEL!

1 person with skills in video editing that could support our desire to be more active in this space, turning raw footage of short testimonies into attractive videos for web usage.

APPLY NOW by sending a message to secretariat@lupus-europe.org specifying which work group(s) you would like to join (giving a first and second choice), your name, address and phone number, a brief background on you and a few words explaining why you are interested. Applications will close by FEBRUARY 28 latest (earlier if great candidates are identified for all open positions).

LUPUS EUROPE becomes first associate member of SLEuro

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LUPUS EUROPE BECOMES FIRST ASSOCIATE MEMBER OF SLEuro, the European Lupus Society

We are very proud to announce that LUPUS EUROPE has just become the first Associate member of SLEuro, the European Lupus Society.

SLEuro is a voluntary and non-political association with social and philanthropic purposes that promotes scientific research and information with regard to SLE and related syndromes. Its members are individuals and institutions of any nationality who share its goals. Members must work in the scientific sector, have proven education and training, and practise a professional activity as researchers, clinicians, nurses or healthcare professionals.

The Society is building a community of clinicians and researchers interested in SLE at an international level, with special focus on engaging younger physicians in the field, promoting and coordinating the organisation of research and educational meetings on SLE and related syndromes, promoting equal access to the best standards of care for SLE patients across Europe, and facilitating research projects and clinical trials in SLE.

LUPUS EUROPE is a strong supporter of SLEuro whose goals are fully aligned with LUPUS EUROPE’s vision of “A fulfilling life for all people with lupus in Europe until we have reached a world without lupus”. Over a number of years, we have appreciated the relentless efforts of the academics and researchers at the origin of SLEuro. We cannot thank them enough for their dedication to Lupus Research, the building-up of a dialogue with lupus patient groups, and their every day care for all people living with lupus in  Europe. To all lupus doctors, we say a big THANK YOU, from the depth of our hearts.
We are proud and honoured to be Associate Members of SLEuro, a connection which symbolises and strengthens the partnership between self-help organisations for lupus patients in Europe and the Medical Community fighting against lupus.

 

ERN survey on awareness and knowledge of clinical practice guidelines

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An ERN (European Reference Network) ReCONNET Survey on awareness and knowledge of Clinical Practice Guidelines in rare and complex connective tissue disorders will be open until 10th February 2018.

These surveys provide vital information to the doctors and researchers setting guidelines for our care.

This survey can be filled in by patients or their families or caregivers. It applies to people with lupus but also those with rare or complex connective tissue disorders.

For more information about the ERN and the survey, please click here.

 

EPF Roadmap for Universal Health Coverage for all

On December 6th Katharine Wheeler participated in the closing conference for EPF’s campaign on Access to Healthcare for All. At the conference EPF presented their Roadmap for Universal Health Coverage for all. Katharine was invited to speak as a patient organisation representative and stressed the importance of leaving no-one behind if we want to achieve the UN sustainable development goals by 2030. She also stressed how important it is that all stakeholders, including patients, are involved across the board and that involvement is not limited to token gestures when it comes to designing new policies and looking at ways to reduce waste while improving the standard of care. This is all the more true when it comes to complex, chronic and rare diseases where care can be fragmented at best in any country, or almost non-existent in others.

Below you will find EPF’s press release, issued on 6th December.

TAKING ACTION: EPF’S ROADMAP TO ACHIEVE
UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE FOR ALL BY 2030

BRUSSELS, 6 December 2017 – EPF’s Campaign on Access to Healthcare for All calling for Universal Health Coverage by 2030 is coming to an end. During its closing Conference held today at the European Parliament, EPF presented its Roadmap and called for political change to ensure the rights of all patients are respected, to fight the health inequalities that persist across the EU, and to make health a priority in all policies at national and EU levels.

A tool for political guidance and a call for a long-term vision

Patients and citizens still face many unmet needs and unequal access to healthcare in all EU Member States. The output of EPF’s one-year campaign, EPF’s Roadmap to achieving universal health coverage for all by 2030 aims to tackle these in two main ways: “With this Roadmap we want to provide political guidance and recommendations to policy makers and politicians and to encourage them to have a longer-term vision and to reflect on what kind of society we want for the patient community and the wider public by 2030.” said Nicola Bedlington, EPF Secretary General.

What is EPF advocating for?

This Roadmap is intended mainly for EU and Member State decision and policy-makers and urges them to:

  • Provide equitable access to high-quality care to all patients, regardless of which country the live in or their country of origin;
  • Commit to invest sustainably in healthcare based on outcomes and added value;
  • Ensure the delivery of healthcare products and services that are affordable for all;
  • Promote better coordination of care and implement access to a holistic range of health and related services, ensuring that the package of services covered by the healthcare system is tailored to the needs of patients;
  • End the discrimination and stigma that patients face and make sure that no population is excluded.

UN SDGs as a compass, European health collaboration as a means

The Roadmap emphasises the importance and need to establish a transparent, inclusive and collaborative working process for the implementation of UHC and the UN SDGs.

“I we don’t get it right on the SDG on Health, then there is a risk that the other SDGs will fail. By the same token, if we don’t get it right in health collaboration post 2020, then some other big aspirations for the EU in terms of economics and growth will also fail,” added Nicola Bedlington.

This Roadmap echoes numerous initiatives taken by EPF to increase access for patients and citizens across Europe. On Monday 4th December, the EPF roundtable on cross-border healthcare provided an updated assessment of the current state of implementation of the directive from the perspective of patients, pointing out the gaps in access but also in the quality and safety of the care received across Europe.

Please find here EPF’s Roadmap entitled ‘Taking Action – A Roadmap to Achieving Universal Health Coverage for All by 2030’.

A factsheet giving a snapshot of this Roadmap has also been developed.

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Convention summary

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The LUPUS EUROPE annual convention has just come to a close. Hosted in Milan by Lupus Italy on the occasion of their 30thanniversary, the convention was an inspiring event centred around the theme of “pain, fatigue and stress”, with Dr Chiara Tani as a key note speaker.

Benefitting from the Italian Lupus Clinic experience, we also covered other topics such as the treatment of women who wish to have children, the use of biologics, how specialised lupus Clinics operate, … Among those presenting, and working in one such clinic, was Fulvia Ceccarelli, a rheumatologist who is herself a lupus patient. It was certainly interesting to hear from someone who has experienced both sides of the doctor/patient relationship. We also took a closer look at the non-biological side of pain, fatigue and stress, with an excellent presentation by the president of the Belgian French Speaking association, Bernadette Van Leeuw. Davide Mazzoni, one of LUPUS EUROPE’s patient research partners, presented a new study which is looking at the possible effects of childhood trauma and the pathways into adulthood which can affect a person’s disease onset and progress. He then took us through the 2017 survey “AT HOME OR IN HOSPITAL?” on the preference for subcutaneous injection or intravenous infusion of biological therapy among Italian SLE patients.

Our Kick Lupus campaign had a wonderful boost with Jeanette Andersen taking us through the new exercise programme (soon to be released). Jeanette has herself made an incredible recovery from being unable to walk last year to jumping and running around this year following her back surgery. The programme has several levels and can be started even if unable to get out of bed.

The convention was also the opportunity to discuss the 2018-2023 strategic plan with our members. The plan, developed after extensive consultation with multiple stakeholders provides us with a clear path for the years ahead, in the pursuit of our vision of “A fulfilling life for all people with lupus in Europe until we have reached a world without lupus.” The Strategic plan discussions were concluded by the adoption of the new LUPUS EUROPE logo. Our many thanks go to Patrick and Sandra from setfire.to, the pro-bono sponsors who designed the logo for us and are now finalising our new website. They have clearly understood what LUPUS EUROPE Stands for: while retaining the symbolic lupus butterfly, it has a vibrant person at its core – just as we have our members and their members at the very heart of our work. We very much wanted a symbol of energy and hope, reflecting the already significantly better outlook for lupus patients today and all our hopes for the future.

This year, Kirsten Lerstrøm, LUPUS EUROPE chair, is stepping down. We cannot thank her enough for 10 years of devoted service and dogged determination to serve the cause of people living with lupus. She has encouraged us to keep the momentum and we look to the future with hope and determination. At the close of the convention, Jeanette Andersen was elected as the new Chair of LUPUS EUROPE, and Alain Cornet was appointed to the newly created position of General Secretary.

We are happy to present the 2018 board who we are sure will continue to serve the best interests of LUPUS EUROPE’s member organisations. From left to right: Katharine Wheeler (Vice-Chair & Secretary), Kirsi Myllys (Treasurer), Anne Charlet (Vice-Chair),  Jeanette Andersen (Chair), Annemarie Sluijmers (Skin) and Sara Badreh (Research & Youth).

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These few lines are just a taster, from a very full convention. More news and a complete convention report will be on its way soon.

 

Submit your abstract to the EULAR 2018 Congress

Join your peers as they pave the developmental exchange of research and best practice in rheumatology! Submit your abstract to #EULAR2018: http://congress2018.eular.org/abstract_submission.cfm

EULAR - European League Against Rheumatisms billede.

World Arthritis Day

It’s #WorldArthritisDay! Check out EULAR´s #DontDelay #ConnectTodaycampaign video featuring Kate, Aran and Simon. Together, we can raise awareness about the importance of early diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases. #WAD #WAD2017

You can watch the video here: http://bit.ly/2yHnbZU

LUPUS EUROPE chair speaks at TOPRA Annual Human Medicines Symposium

Tuesday, October 3rd  Chair Kirsten Lerstrøm, LUPUS EUROPE, has been invited to address the TOPRA Annual Human Medicines Symposium; Collaboration – Strategies – Solutions – Global regulatory approaches to improve healthcare. She has been invited to present on How to reflect the needs of patients in drug development programmes  in the session “Involving patients in drug development and how this impacts on regulators procedures and decision making.”

Kirsten Lerstrøm speaking at the European Parliament ENVI Committee on Autoimmune Diseases

Monday, September 25th Chair Kirsten Lerstrøm, LUPUS EUROPE, has been invited to address the European Parliament ENVI Committee on “The case of lupus: Prevention and Treatment of Autoimmune Diseases” at the workshop in Parliament on “Autoimmune Diseases – modern diseases”.

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Message is that lupus is complex and complicated both to manage and to live with. Only one new compound in 50+ years has passed Phase III of clinical trials. Cause of disease is still unknown yet a special cocktail of genes and environmental factors can trigger onset of lupus and further direct the course of disease.

Current treatment and practice might keep us out of the hospital bed, but not out the sick bed. Our LEO study1 showed that only about half of us living with lupus maintain connection to the workforce, and the majority of those do so on reduced terms: while diagnosed at the age of 37 (25-45 yrs) and time to diagnosis is 7 years (average); This serious change of life happens at the time of establishing family and career!

There is no vaccine or golden rule of behavior that will prevent disease onset or further development. We have learned though the past few years that treatment plan is a shared decision between you and your treating specialist, so follow this plan. Also considering the typical comorbidities of autoimmune disease are complications from photosensitivity, smoking, level of exercise and dietary adjustment to observe CVDs could improve the general health status.

Current treatment recommendations are anti-malarials (hydroxychloroquine) to provide the long-term lowering general disease symptoms. When this is not enough, further immunosuppresives can be added, like from milder methotrexate to azathioprin, cyclosporine to mycophenolate mofetil. As a fast actor is generally used prednisolone. Only hydroxychloroquine and prednisolone have been approved for managing lupus respectively 1955 and 59.

There is a list of different biologics used in cases where other treatment is not enough or not having the wanted control of disease activity: rituximab, infliximab, etanercept, adalimumab and belimumab – most of which are used/approved for treatment of rheumatic arthritis. It is very difficult to tell when this or that compound has any effect on the individual, which complicates the efficacy assessment. No one set of biomarkers nor treatment  is yet found.

The failing trials of one compound after another is devastating to witness – each time one less option for perhaps better outcomes and improved quality of life.

Lupus is often viewed as the archetype of autoimmune diseases – if the understanding of why and how this disease operates, then perhaps the autoimmune enigma can be solved!

People living with lupus share some further conditions with other rheumatic and/or autoimmune diseases, like serious fatigue, comorbidities, damage accrual not only from autoimmune response but also from treatment and more. Our special lupus aspect is complexity, the early age, the very burden and the mental impact. We need to do better!

Us living with lupus need to get actively involved in the research by not only delivering body fluids and tissue, but also through involvement in the planning and execution of research.

New approaches to find better research tools for classification of symptoms and disease manifestations clinically (ACR/EULAR) and genetically (IMI PRECISEADS), revision of the EULAR Recommendations of Management of SLE and revision of PROs used to capture disease activity – are in the process and with our representation.

Patient representatives have been actively engaged in building of consortia to launch new initiatives to build a better foundation for the lupus advancement in disease understanding, defining trial end-points and improve the patient reported outcome measures. We are part of the newly established ERN ReCONNET. At the moment we have one lupus representative working for EMA, but we also need to be better represented in other regulatory and political settings locally, regionally and nationally as well as internationally.

Sara’s first year

My first year with Lupus Europe – Sara Badreh

Sara was elected to LUPUS EUROPE’s Board of trustees last October. Here is how she describes her first 8 months as a LUPUS EUROPE trustee:

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After an induction with the various trustees and learning more about LUPUS EUROPE in general, my first big conference was the EULAR PARE Youth conference: Amazing, so big, so glamorous and yet so relaxed and such a friendly environment. It was really the best conference to start with! I learned so much from other patients living with Rheumatic diseases in Europe and the workshops there were so inspiring and engaging. I made some new friends and got thrown straight into networking and learn how to do that in the best way. After the PARE Youth conference I felt like I had gotten some “meat on my bones” and felt ready for my next challenge, which was a Lupus Think Tank in Washington D.C. It was a very intense meeting: just one day where me from Lupus Europe, LFA, Lupus Research Alliance, Lupus and Allied Diseases Association together with a pharmaceutical company and ACR brainstormed to bring different ways of approaching awareness about Lupus and what to focus on regarding treatment for patients.

I then joined the Lupus Academy, a program for Rheumatologist specialized in Lupus where they can ask questions, present difficult cases and get advice from experienced professors. It was very interesting to hear the doctors’ point of view, and feel how much they care about their patients and very humbling to hear their worries when major flares happen and everything is on their shoulders to try to save their patient. If you think that the doctors don’t care about you and only want to keep you on medications and move to the next appointment without even listening, I can tell you that that is not the case!

 My next stop was at the EULAR course for young rheumatologists. This was my first official presentation for LUPUS EROPE in front of educated doctors. I was so nervous… But it went really well. I presented our patient panel outcomes, how patients with Lupus live with the disease in Europe. It was a really fun group of young doctors, I made some new friends and I hope to go back next time.

After that experience, I got selected to take part in the ReConnet steering committee. reConnet is a network for collaboration between scientists, doctors and health care professionals working on connective tissue diseases,  to unify how to diagnose and treat those diseases, and to bring the same standards of care regardless of what country in Europe you are in. It is part of the European Network project (ERN), a a five-year project funded by the European Commission.

My last big event before vacation was the annual EULAR congress. It was big, flashy, extravagant and way way way too much lecture to go to, meetings to attend and networking to do. While the lectures I attended were very interesting, the networking was even better. Everyone and anyone who has anything related to rheumatic diseases were at the congress, the best place for networking and spreading the awareness about Lupus.

After EULAR, it was time for some vacation: Travelling is more exhausting than you would think! And being a trustee also involved board meetings, a round table with pharmaceuticals, medical doctors and other patient organizations,… The journey has really been an intensive crash course (that lasted a bit longer than just a crash course) in how everything works. So with that, I was well equipped to contribute to designing our next 5 years strategic plan.

 I am very excited to be a part of Lupus Europe during this time when we are shaping how the next 5 years are going to be like! If you want to make a difference and really feel the difference you can make in this world, if you are interested in making a difference for people living with Lupus, take up some of these volunteering positions, apply to our board or to be one of our co-opts to leave your mark in this world, knowing that you’re making a difference. I promise, you will Not regret it!

 Sara

London Marathon 2017

Some great news from Lupus UK – Janine, LUPUS UK National Office, organised 5 Runners in the Virgin London Marathon, 23rd April, with £4,290 being raised for LUPUS EUROPE.
THANK YOU for your great work, Janine!

Pictured below are Ed and Charlotte. Well done to you both and the other runners!

For more information on running in the London Marathon for Lupus UK.

Charlotte & Ed Back