Gian Domenico Sebastiani is the new National President of the Italian Society of Rheumatology (SIR). The election took place during the 59th National Congress of the Scientific Society which closed on Saturday 26 November in Rimini. Interviewed by SaluteSebastiani, Director of the Rheumatology Unit at the S. Camillo Forlanini Hospital in Rome, spoke about the priorities and challenges that Italian rheumatology will have to face in the coming years, relaunching projects dedicated to all citizens, not just patients and institutions .
Prof. Sebastiani, what Scientific Society does he inherit?
An extremely solid and rapidly growing Scientific Society both in terms of number of members and scientific production. For this we must thank Roberto Gerli, my predecessor, who did an excellent job together with the other members of the board. SIR is increasingly authoritative, a point of reference both in Italy and abroad. We represent an important branch of medicine which, however, deserves to be more valued within our National Health Service.
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What will be the priorities of your SIR presidency?
We have great challenges ahead of us. The first is to increase the early diagnosis of diseases and reduce waiting lists for patients. The second, closely connected to the first, is to increase the number of rheumatology specialists who are currently lacking, especially in some central-southern regions of the peninsula. As SIR we are already engaged and have been funding scholarships for students, researchers and medical managers for several years. We are also supporting training activities throughout Italy dedicated to young colleagues.
Are there also projects dedicated to the general public on the horizon?
Yes, if we really want to re-launch the importance of the rheumatologist within the National Health Service, we must also address citizens and not just institutions and patients. For this reason we will continue with awareness campaigns, also through the SIR web TV (SirTV), and we will launch new projects dedicated exclusively to the lay public. A greater awareness of the entire population is another weapon at our disposal against diseases that should not be underestimated. And to increase it, an incessant work of information is also essential. Finally, again through our web TV SIR TV, we will continue to communicate with patients.
And what about medical-scientific research?
Promoting and supporting innovative research projects is an activity that has always distinguished SIR. Since 2014 alone, we have launched eight strategic clinical and epidemiological research projects, and supported the activity of 20 study groups, which have achieved excellent results.
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An assessment of the last SIR congress which took place in Rimini from 23 to 26 November?
It was an excellent scientific meeting that saw the participation of over 1,500 specialists from all over our country. There were over 150 speakers, we had eight Hands on and 50 different sessions. Among these I would like to mention the joint session between SIR and the newly formed Italian Society of Pediatric Rheumatology which gave us the opportunity to recall the figure of our late colleague Rolando Cimaz.