May 2022 – In recognition of the World Ankylosing Spondylitis Day, the Axial Spondyloarthritis Association of the Philippines (ASAPh) and Philippine Alliance of Patient Organizations (PAPO), in collaboration with Johnson & Johnson (Philippines), Inc. (J&J Philippines) rolled out an educational campaign and medical consultation for ASAPh members nationwide. The educational campaign supports the organizations’ goal of spreading greater awareness that will help prevent late diagnosis and halt the progression of the disease.
Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) is one of the two types of Axial Spondyloarthritis – a chronic, rheumatic disease that primarily affects the spine and sacroiliac joints. Over time, AS can cause some of the bones of the spine to fuse resulting to less flexibility and a question mark or suppliant posture. Usually, the first symptom of this disease is pain and stiffness in the lower back and hips, especially after periods of inactivity such as sleeping.
While there is no cure for AS at present, the treatments currently available, including physical therapy, work to delay the progression of the disease.
“Our goal is to create awareness about AS because it’s an uncommon disease and so we want to diagnose the patients early on and intervene right away in order to manage their illnesses properly and delay the progression,” explains ASAPh’s board of trustees, Dr. Karizza Calibag said. “If AS is not treated properly, it can lead to impairments and disabilities.”
Added ASAPh president, Clark Ferrer: “This medical mission also aims to address misinformation among our support group. AS is an autoimmune disease. Treatment and recovery vary from patient to patient so we really want each member of our group to have a one-on-one consultation about their individual conditions.”
“We welcome this partnership with J&J Philippines to help empower patients thru proper diagnosis, treatment and information to help manage their conditions,” said PAPO President, Girlie Lorenzo.
J&J addresses the main struggle of AS patients
Diagnosis is one of the main difficulties that AS patients face. Patients are either diagnosed late or misdiagnosed because it’s a disease very few understand. Through this awareness, consultation, and education program, J&J Philippines helps to connect those suffering from AS with the right medical specialists. AS patients go through initial consultation and screening to assess their current condition before being endorsed to a specialist who can be either an orthopedist, rheumatologist, or a physiatrist.
Says J&J Philippines’ head of Medical Affairs Dr. Erwin Benedicto, “It is our ultimate goal to encourage patients to seek early consultation with doctors and educate them on the proper treatment that they should receive to help them manage the disease and live more fruitful lives.”