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JCR: Journal of Clinical Rheumatology:
doi: 10.1097/RHU.0000000000000112
News and Views From Latin America

The New Pan American League of Associations for Rheumatology: Where We Stand and Where We Are Going

Pineda, Carlos MD, MSc

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From Instituto Nacional de Rehabilitación, Mexico City, Mexico.

This study has no sources of funding.

The author declares no conflict of interest.

Correspondence: Carlos Pineda, MD, MSc, Instituto Nacional de Rehabilitación, Avenida México-Xochimilco 289, Colonia Arenal de Guadalupe, Mexico City 14389, Mexico. E-mail: carpineda@yahoo.com.

The Pan American League of Associations for Rheumatology (PANLAR), founded in 1943, brings together the societies, associations, and scientific colleges of rheumatology of all of the member nations comprising the American continent.

Our League has undergone a series of deep-seated transformations that, in recent times, include regulatory, operational, and administrative changes. One highlight is our having, for the first time in 70 years, a fixed, official domicile. Our new home is located at 2200 Lake Blvd NE, Atlanta, GA 30319; this location also serves as an administrative office, operated by an accounting assistant.

In regulatory matters, PANLAR has undertaken a process of reengineering, culminating in the revision and updating of its constitution and bylaws. The prevailing redesign was planned and projected by its most recent past presidents, as well as by members of the Board of Directors in turn, which included the previously called regional vice presidents and vice secretaries. All of these members met on November 8 and 9, 2012, in Washington, DC, to draw up an innovative proposal, which included the redefinition and scope of the operational processes.

Thanks to an exercise of strategic planning, the guidance, leadership, and vision of Dr John Reveille and the valuable advice of Drs Antonio Ximenes and Luis Espinoza, the defining of a preliminary proposal of the bylaws was achieved; it was subsequently analyzed and debated in depth in multiple face-to-face meetings and teleconferences of the Executive Committee. From this joint effort came a solid and robust proposal of a PANLAR constitution and bylaws, finally approved on October 26, 2013, during its general assembly held in San Diego, CA.

The new bylaws consider PANLAR to have 2 main objectives: (1) to stimulate and promote the study and research of rheumatic diseases for its prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation to benefit patients with rheumatic disease in the American continent and (2) to stimulate the continuing development of rheumatology in the Americas.

Thanks to the restructuring undertaken, PANLAR now boasts 4 standing committees: (1) Governance, (2) Finance, (3) Communications and Marketing, and (4) Education and Scientific Advisory Committee. The new committees collaborate on a permanent basis with the Board of Directors in order to fulfill the objectives of the organization.

At the interior of the restructuring achieved by the League, the study groups now occupy an outstanding place, whose main purpose is to delve deeper into research and teaching in key fields of rheumatology and thus assist in achieving the main objectives of PANLAR. The Education and Scientific Advisory Committee now oversees and coordinates their tasks. The study groups are defined as scientific sections of PANLAR, with voluntary and ad honorem participation. PANLAR currently has the following study groups: antiphospholipid syndrome, early rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, polymyositis, psoriatic arthritis, pediatric rheumatology, scleroderma, Sjögren syndrome, spondyloarthritis, and ultrasound. As part of the advance achieved, these groups will soon be regulated by an operational manual, which establishes their competencies and obligations, determines the rules of their scientific development, and clearly delimits their functions.

We continue to require expanding the number of study groups to embrace new areas of interest; similarly, it has become necessary to strengthen some of the relatively less developed study groups.

I would like to mention that the PANLAR Congress will continue functioning on a biannual basis. For alternate years, a review and updating rheumatology course will be developed: the first course of this type will be held in Colombia in 2015. It will be open to all PANLAR members, especially to young residents engaged in their educational and training process.

In relation to financial matters, the Treasury, headed by Dr Joan von Feldt, has performed intense work. Thanks to her outstanding tenacity, skills, efforts, and perseverance, the new PANLAR is now officially incorporated as a nonprofit organization, under the aegis of a 501(c)(3) organization of the United States. This new administrative infrastructure will permit the League to strengthen its growth and to foster the development of its activities.

One difficulty that we have experienced in the past is intermittent communication between the Executive Committee and PANLAR-affiliated members. With the aim of remedying this situation, communications have improved via electronic mail, thanks to a permanent contact data updating campaign.

In addition, by means of electronic communications systems in real time, we have been able to establish fluid and efficient contact among the members of the Executive Committee, the Board of Directors, and the National Societies. We appreciate the skills of Dr Carlo Vinicio Caballero, who has taught us and guided us in the art of communicating with each other more effectively.

I would like to take this opportunity to manifest my gratitude for the professional and dedicated work carried out by the PANLAR officers and members under the leadership of its most recent president, Dr John Reveille; past president, Dr Antonio Ximenes; secretary general, Dr Carlo Vinicio Caballero; treasurer, Dr Joan von Feldt; and regional representatives, standing committees, and study groups coordinators, members, and to our executive and administrative assistants Mss Rosa Sheen and Grace Castillo, respectively. To each and all of you, in a very personal way, I express my most extensive recognition for the extraordinary work performed during the past 2 years, in favor of creating a renewed organization, the new PANLAR.

The executive committee is composed by: president, Carlos Pineda; secretary general, Roberto Muñoz; treasurer, Enrique Soriano; president elect, Carlo V. Caballero-Uribe; and past president, John Reveille.

For the 2014 to 2016 period, we plan to carry out, in close collaboration with the Education and Scientific Advisory Committee, diverse consensuses for the diagnosis and treatment of the most prevalent rheumatic diseases in Latin America.

Furthermore, online updating courses are about to be developed and will include themes such as research methodology, essentials of articular and musculoskeletal ultrasound, and a digital competencies workshop.

All of this will be facilitated by a most user-friendly electronic Web site (www.PANLAR.org), one that is informative and with the capacity for constant growth and updating, in which the rheumatologists will find greater added value for their visits.

To make this possible, a new Web page has been planned that will enhance among the members the image that we wish to project to the rheumatologic community, a scientifically consolidated and structurally renewed PANLAR.

The next 2 years will pose challenges and ventures that the new PANLAR will assume to comply with its objective of renovation. To fine-tune the strategy, we will in brief hold a second strategic planning meeting with the members of the Board of Directors, so that, in coordinated action, the goals proposed here will be achieved.

The transformation process that has begun does not stop here. This is only the beginning of a very profound structural change that, with the work and combined talents of all of the members of the League, will allow us to position and consolidate ourselves competitively to better accomplish our objectives in the future.

I cordially invite you to participate, with all of your enthusiasm, in this recently initiated new phase of PANLAR as a great work team.

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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