Brazil: Providing a helping hand
Every day, thousands of people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) face challenges imposed on them by their disease. Thanks to scientific advances over the past decades, improved treatment options offer people with RA support in terms of managing their disease.
Unfortunately, there are still many who do not have access to these treatments for various reasons. In rural parts of Brazil this has been a particular challenge because of the general lack of awareness about the disease amongst the public, limited access to treatment options and lack of social services or assistance programs.
Together with the local patient advocacy group, Garce, Roche Brazil took action in the Cariri region to address all of these issues, with the ultimate aim of improving the quality of life of people living with RA. Roche supported Garce in their efforts to build partnerships between themselves, educational institutions, government bodies and healthcare agencies.
Watch this video on how Garce empowers community health agents in the Cariri region (video in Portuguese):
RA is a chronic disease that causes inflammation and irreversible damage to the joints. It is therefore important, in order stop this damage, not to delay treatment. To facilitate this, Roche Brazil and Garce offered trainings and education programmes for physicians (both in primary care and specialty medicine) as well as community healthcare professionals of the Cariri region, to help ensure early diagnosis and referrals to health clinics for treatment. They also worked to make more information available to patients and engage local media to raise the profile of this challenging disease. Finally, together with clinics and governments they worked to provide improved equipment for treatment so that patients would no longer have to travel to the capital – a journey that can take up to several hours each way – to receive medication.
The teamwork and collaboration to improve the quality of life of RA patients in the Cariri region set an example for the entire country and is creating a new standard for Brazil’s local approaches to support patients with RA.