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.

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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

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