Psoriasis is a severe chronic, non-communicable (NCD), disabling and disfiguring disease, for which there is no cure. Globally, there are 125 million people living with psoriasis. Psoriasis symptoms are mostly visible on the skin, which can become inflamed, irritated, itchy or scaled. Visually, it may look like psoriasis is contagious or result of bad hygiene. But the reality is far from that. ‘Usual suspects’ for psoriasis outbreaks are one’s genes, immune system, risk factors (diet, physical activity, tobacco and alcohol use), or triggers such as stress or infection.
Throughout IFPA’s longstanding work, we have observed the different realities of people with psoriasis in different countries – lowered quality of life, expensive treatments, exclusion, and discrimination. World Psoriasis Day (WPD) was born to shift the focus on celebrating the strength of people with psoriasis and to better inform the communities of the disease and the people’s needs. Over a decade later, WPD is observed in over 80 countries worldwide, with activities whose silver lining is inclusion.
One of the biggest myths is the one about psoriasis being a skin disease. While in most cases it has a skin manifestation, psoriasis is an NCD (recognized through WHO Resolution on Psoriasis). Furthermore, there are direct connections between psoriasis and other major NCDs, such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Recent research ties psoriasis and cancer and chronic respiratory diseases, as well.
Motivated by that, WPD 2017 is themed ‘Psoriasis Inside Out’. We will show the ‘Pso Many Sides’ of everyday life with psoriasis, and listen to ‘Pso Me’ experiences from people affected by psoriasis either as patients, family members, friends or colleagues. ‘Psoriasis Inside Out’ highlights looking at psoriasis NCD comorbidities and shifts the focus from the physical burden only, to the psychosocial impairments – how psoriasis affects relations, community belonging, and everyday life.
I think that given the right environment, people with psoriasis can excel at whatever they want. Defy the odds, reach their dreams and goals. Therefore, I see great potential in WPD – to take people with psoriasis one step closer to not missing out on life because of their condition. I am optimistic to think that in 2017, the wider NCD community will join this global exercise of creating better life for people with psoriasis. To feed the voices of psoriasis patients in the global NCD discussions, IFPA recently launched the Global Psoriasis Coalition, giving one more opportunity for non-governmental organizations, medical societies, foundations, researchers, corporate partners and decision makers to join forces and stand together for the 125 million people with psoriasis worldwide.
Join us in sharing the many sides of psoriasis!
Josef de Guzman
Treasurer in the Board of the International Federation of Psoriasis Associations (IFPA)
Chairman of the World Psoriasis Day Steering Committee