IBD Has No Borders

Laura D. Wingate“IBD Has No Borders” was a fitting theme for World IBD Day (May 17) and a recent worldwide meeting focused on how we as a global community can ensure that people living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can access the care they need.

 

I had the privilege to join this meeting organized by the European Federation of Crohn’s & Ulcerative Colitis Associations (EFCCA) and Vivir con Crohn y Cuci before World IBD Day with IBD organizations from Australia, Canada, and across Latin America. 


As we shared our data and perspectives, it was clear that IBD patients across the world face barriers to accessing appropriate care, including: 

 

  • Geographical disparities – Living in remote or underserved regions with limited access to specialists in gastroenterology can lead to delayed or inadequate care.
  • Financial barriers – High healthcare costs and inadequate insurance coverage can impede getting the right treatment at the right time. 
  • Diagnostic delays – Difficulty getting a diagnosis can significantly delay critical and timely treatment. 
  • Healthcare infrastructure – Healthcare systems in certain areas lack the resources to diagnose and provide optimal treatment.
  • Stigma and awareness – IBD is not comfortable to talk about, and, as a result, there is limited awareness throughout the world.


Our dialogue focused on policy changes, improvements to care delivery, and how patient advocacy can advance these efforts. We shared best practices and envisioned opportunities for future collaborations. The conversations and spirit of collective action were truly inspiring. The organizations represented at the meeting agreed that we are united in making IBD visible and improving access to care. I look forward to finalizing our next steps and sharing them with you.  


As the Foundation continues our work to improve access to care, I encourage you to think about how we can all help to make this a reality. There are many barriers facing the IBD community in the United States, and this is a time for patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals to unite and advocate for necessary changes. As this fall’s election season approaches, remember that the first step toward change is to make your voice heard by voting.


Join the Foundation’s Advocacy Network to stay informed about policy updates and actions you can take to improve access to IBD care. Let’s go there and improve access for the IBD community!

 

 

Laura D. Wingate is the Executive Vice President, Education, Support, & Advocacy for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.