We hear you!
The Arthritis Foundation of South Africa is renewing its focus to better help those with the condition to regain their sense of self. We want to re-establish our relationship with our members, who are at the heart of why we exist.
The Arthritis Foundation of SA (AFSA) is a nonprofit organisation that is dedicated to supporting, educating and advocating for all communities affected by this condition. Arthritis is a painful disease that can be physically limiting and depressing to everyone affected. Now, AFSA is strengthening its focus to better help those living with the condition, as well as their families and carers. New CEO Ann Olivier shares her new vision. Why is it important to build awareness around arthritis? Arthritis does not affect only the elderly – about 30 000 children in SA have the condition, yet only a fraction is diagnosed and treated, or even seen by a paediatric rheumatologist. In fact, we’d need 155 such specialists to serve the population adequately. Currently we have seven, which highlights the importance of awareness. As CEO, where do you plan on taking the organisation? We want to re-establish our relationship with our members, who are at the heart of why we exist, and forge lasting relationships with wider communities across SA. We also want to create awareness around early diagnosis and the scarcity of skills and resources, and raise funds for research and development. With more personal, hands-on interaction, we can help those afflicted with the daily challenges of arthritis and gain more insight into their experience. What steps are you taking to achieve this renewed vision? We’re embarking on a countrywide trip to hear your stories, meet our members and engage with those who share our vision. This will help us to improve the way our services are accessed and better our support functions so that the arthritis community truly benefits. How do you plan to build new relationships and strengthen old ones? It all culminates in how we treat and connect with people. It’s all about connection, transparency, community, commitment and efficiency. Without these values, we can’t build trust, which is what allows us to connect with communities. What drives you in your work with the foundation? I feel that I’m contributing to something larger than myself, something vitally important. I can make an actual difference to the lives of so many people. There is still so much we can do and there are so many people who still need assistance. This keeps me, and the entire team, motivated – 2019 is a time for change and it’s personal!
Ann Olivier, CEO of The Arthritis Foundation of South Africa