Facing a Rare Disease

February 28 marks Rare Disease Day. For many families facing a rare disease, such as epidermolysis bullosa, it can be as taxing physically and emotionally on caregivers as it is on those diagnosed. Rare Disease Day is an international day of awareness established to educate those in the medical field, those in media, and those who create and enforce public policy that can directly impact these families.

As with previous years, Rare Disease Day 2015 will be comprised of campaigns across the globe intent on reaching hundreds of thousands of people and generating media buzz to be capitalized on by bloggers, tweeters, and interactive Facebook communities like ours in this era of social media and grassroots campaigning.

Although Rare Disease Day started in Europe in 2008 by EURORDIS and the Council of National Alliances, it has grown into a collaborative international effort worldwide connecting health professionals, legislators, researchers, and those in industries serving rare disease communities such as the EB community. Last year, a new record-high 84 countries participated in the awareness day.

For many families facing a rare disease, much of the battle is locating support resources, and accurate, timely health information. Some helpful sites focused primarily on providing relevant information about thousands of rare disease, such as EB, include:

For more information about Rare Disease Day or to see what related events may be taking place near where you live, visit www.rarediseaseday.org/. If you have been planning your own event to reach area media on the designated date, make certain to post it at the Rare Disease Day site so others can come out to support your campaign.

EB & Rare Disease Day 2014

This month marks Rare Disease Day, an annual day which observes the prevalence of rare diseases and their impact on the people living with them. It was started six years ago by EURORDIS and the Council of National Alliances, and its recognition has grown beyond being a European and become a world occasion with more than 1,000 events held since its launch.

 

The focus behind this one day is in line with what EB patients, families and their advocates set out to do every day – educate people; inspire others to become involved in advocacy, fundraising and research; and instill a better understanding of the kinds of challenges and needs facing the rare disease community.

 

Rare Disease Day has also been embraced by those in highly influential roles to garner more attention for the topic, including politicians and entertainers. Last year, over 70 countries from around the globe took part in what became the largest Rare Disease Day ever. On its own website, the coordinators of the event state their ultimate goal is for the World Health Organization to recognize the last day of February each year as one of its official days to help build international awareness of rare diseases.

 

Here in the EB community, it can be a perfect opportunity for families impacted by EB to speak up. Families could take the occasion to contact their elected representatives about any upcoming or current bills that could impact insurance coverage or funding that might benefit those afflicted with rare diseases.

 

So what other things could you do on a smaller scale to promote Rare Disease Day in your own community? Share information about the international event with your child’s school to explore opportunities to promote it there. Contact local newspapers and television channels. Reach out to any civic or social groups in the area to encourage them to host their own awareness event. Let your company’s HR department know about the annual event and inquire about any opportunities to promote there. Take to your social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn and spread the word!

 

To read up about Rare Disease Day 2014, be sure to visit the official website at www.rarediseaseday.org.