Insights from Romania: the 2023 ARSO National Congress

Insights from Romania: the 2023 ARSO National Congress

EASO and ECPO colleagues were delighted this week to participate in the national congress of the EASO Romanian membership association. The Romanian Society of Obesity (ARSO) meeting took place 19-21 October 2023 in Iasi at the lasi International Hotel. The meeting was hosted by ARSO president Laura Mihalache, and national association secretary Lidia Arhire. The meeting presented an excellent networking opportunity and there was interest expressed at the conference in working to establish the first Romanian Collaborating Center for Obesity Management.

ARSO LogoDr. Andreea Cuidin, EASO Obesity Management Working Group (OMWG) Co-Chair, and ECPO representative Alina Constantin, who participated in the congress, were born and raised in Romania. EASO president elect, Volkan Yumuk, also has strong personal ties to the country. Professor Yumuk introduced EASO to the assembled group and Dr Cuidin introduced the work of the Obesity Management Working Group. They respectively delivered a scientific presentation about obesity in the elderly (Yumuk) and presented on fatty liver disease (Cuidin). Dr Cuidin encouraged the ARSO members to apply to become COMs, participate in EASO programs, courses and congresses, and to actively organize and promote local educational programs in obesity, both for HCPs and for people living with obesity. Andreea said “Feedback from our discussion was positive and promising for development of next steps for ARSO across policy and education in obesity, as well as active integration of colleagues from the ARSO team within the EASO community.”

The role of Alina in the meeting was crucial. Ms Alina Constantin (Ligue Contre l’Obésité, France) represented the ECPO advocacy community in an EASO communication session; her participation marked the organisation’s first inclusion of patient perspectives in a congress. As Romania navigates the recognition of obesity as a disease, Alina emphasized the importance of person-first language and imagery in portraying people with obesity. She also provided guidance on establishing patient associations, with ECPO and EASO’s support. Alina remarked on the significance of patient partnerships, their roles, and the impact of ECPO on global patient advocacy. She highlighted the ECPO image bank and the importance of People First language.

Ms Constantin writes: “I spoke about patient partnerships and what it takes, personally and professionally, to support patient communities, and what it means to be a patient partner — including peer-to-peer support, advocacy, and public relations. Patients have various important roles to play in a whole array of patient organizations, at local, national, and international levels”.

Discussing the international impact of ECPO in global patient advocacy, she described the organisation’s history, objectives, activities, and resources. She promoted the ECPO image bank which offers open access to a range of non-stigmatising images, and emphasised the use of People First language in all HCP communication.

Feedback from this patient focused session was positive and promising direction for evolution of the Romanian obesity community landscape.