IFPA organized the unique side event “A Strong Wind of Change” during the 69th World Health Assembly in Geneva. During the event, leading experts discussed the implementation of Resolution WHA 67.9 and future global action on psoriasis.
IFPA’s advocacy successes: WHO Resolution and Global Report
IFPA has for many years advocated for the rights of the millions of patients we represent. In 2014, the WHO sent a powerful, global message in support of people with psoriasis. Its 67th World Health Assembly approved Resolution WHA67.9, which officially recognized psoriasis as a severe non-communicable disease – a milestone for the entire psoriasis community. Soon after, the WHO followed up on the Resolution by publishing a full Global Report on Psoriasis. Together, these two documents form an urgent call for the international community to take action on psoriasis. The time has come to follow up on this strong wind of change!
This is why IFPA organized a unique side event in the margins of the 69th World Health Assembly, on May 26 in Geneva. At the event, an expert audience of policy-makers, healthcare professionals, researchers and activists discussed the implementation of the Resolution and the tools needed to kick-start global change.
Speakers: the need for change
IFPA Board Member Silvia Fernandez Barrio set the tone of the event with her welcome address: powerful, moving and personal. “For people with psoriasis, the WHO Resolution will change their lives. When I got diagnosed, I felt like having leprosy. Leprosy now has a cure. Psoriasis doesn’t.” Despite the lack of a cure, the Resolution presents a crucial advocacy success for psoriasis patients worldwide.
Next, Professor Mona Ståhle from Karolinska Institute hospital emphasized the prevalence of psoriasis across the world and the need for change. The disease’s widespread nature is an urgent call for more research, improved public awareness, and further social inclusion.
Speakers: the consequences of psoriasis
Naturally, the WHO Resolution and Global Report are already important steps in addressing
this need for change. The third speaker, Dr. Belinda Loring of the WHO, thus elaborated on these WHO efforts for psoriasis. She detailed how unique the Resolution is, as it represents a first for a dermatological disease, and stressed that WHO member states carry a responsibility for ensuring the Resolution is implemented.
Next, two speakers discussed the consequences of psoriasis. Prof. Matthias Augustin (International League of Dermatological Societies) illustrated his talk with stark figures. In Europe alone, psoriasis’ economic burden amounts to over 18.8 billion euro. Next up was Josef de Guzman (President of IFPA’s regional member organization PsorAsia Pacific). With heartbreaking honesty, Josef explained how “psoriasis cuts short our lives and dreams.” Patients not only shoulder a tough physical burden, but also suffer from psychosocial effects: psoriasis can negatively affect self-esteem, sexual and romantic relations, as well as mental health (sometimes even leading to suicidal ideation).
Speakers: actions for the future
Fortunately, Prof. Dr. Swen Malte John (European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology)
showed that many steps can be taken to improve life quality for people living with psoriasis.
Needless suffering can be prevented when we ensure diagnoses are correct and timely; when
treatment and care are adequate and affordable; and when social stigmatization is addressed.
This possibility for change was wonderfully illustrated by Gladis Lima, Psoriase Brazil’s President. By talking about the steps Brazil has taken to translate policy recommendations in clear actions, Mrs Lima showed what a strong wind of change can achieve!
Finally, a Q&A Session was monitored by Dr. Sarah Jarvis, with closing remarks by IFPA’s President Lars Ettarp summarizing how the time for change is now. WHO member states have signed the Resolution en masse, making them accountable for its successful implementation. As a standalone disease (and through comorbid afflictions like arthritis, T2 diabetes or heart disease), psoriasis is strongly linked to UN Sustainable Development Goal 3 on Global Health. The international community has committed to these Sustainable Development Goals, so fighting psoriasis brings us one step closer to achieving SDG success by 2030.
At the end of IFPA’s side event, one thing was crystal clear: together, we can create a wind of change strong enough to alter the lives of millions of psoriasis patients worldwide.
IFPA’s side event was supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Novartis Pharma AG, Leo Pharma and Celgene.