A consensus meeting of representatives of 18 Latin-American and Caribbean countries gathered in Reñaca, Chile, for 2 days to identify problems and provide recommendations for the care of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in Latin America, a region where poverty and other health priorities make the efforts to provide effective and high quality care difficult. This report includes recommendations for health professionals, patients, and health authorities in Latin America, with an emphasis on education and therapeutic issues.
Fifty-one rheumatologists (list available only online on the JCR website) from 18 Latin-American and Caribbean countries with a special interest in RA participated in the consensus meeting. Participants were experts identified and appointed by the National Societies of Rheumatology affiliated with the Pan-American League of Associations for Rheumatology (PANLAR) and by the Grupo Latino Americano De Estudio de Artritis Reumatoide (GLADAR)—an independent group of Latin American rheumatologist researchers were also invited to the meeting. Eight topics were identified as priorities: patient, community and allied health professional education, health policy and decision making, programs for early detection and appropriate treatment of RA, role of classic disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), role of biologic therapy, and drug safety surveillance. To reach consensus, a survey with questions relevant to the topic of interest was sent to all participants before the meeting. During a 2 day meeting, the answers of the survey were reviewed and discussed by each group, with final recommendations on action items.
The specific topic of the survey was answered by 86% of the participants and 68% of them answered the entire survey. It was agreed that RA and rheumatic diseases which are currently not but should be public health priorities in Latin America, because of their prevalence and impact on quality of life.
Strategic areas identified as priorities for our region included: early diagnosis and access to care by multidisciplinary teams, creation of databases to identify infections with the use of biologic agents in RA which are relevant to Latin America, and overall efforts to improve the care of RA patients in accordance with international standards. Implementation of educational programs aimed to improve self-management for patients with RA was also considered crucial.