ASIF is delighted and honoured to welcome Maranda van Dam from South Africa, to the ASIF Board.
Maranda understands only too well the impact axSpA can have. In 2008 Maranda began experiencing symptoms; however, it took her almost 8.5 years of dead ends and frustration before she finally got a diagnosis.
Knowing that she didn’t want others to go through what she did without support, two years later, Maranda set up the Axial Spondyloarthritis Association of South Africa (ASASA). The organisation began as a Facebook group that reached out to people living with axSpA. Four years on, the private Facebook group has become a vibrant community with 243 members who ask advice, post information and share experiences. Maranda says that the most important role of the Facebook group is to be a safe place where AS survivors, as she calls them, can be themselves. ASASA now has a newsletter and anticipates growing at around 50 members per year.
Shockingly, South Africa has just 85 rheumatologists for a population of 60 million people. This is one reason why ASASA is so important, as for many people living with axSpA, seeing a rheumatologist is a once in a lifetime experience.
Maranda is passionate about advocating for people living with axSpA and sees the value in working as a global community.
Over the last few years Maranda has been increasingly involved in ASIF’s work, sitting on sub-committees and providing input into key projects.
A unanimous vote at the ASIF Council Meeting in Copenhagen on 31 May 2022, secured her place on the ASIF Board.
Maranda commented, “Giving a voice to a silent disease, has changed my life forever.”
As well as her work with ASASA and ASIF, Maranda is a successful business owner and a single parent to two wonderful boys. She enjoys an active lifestyle that includes riding her mountain bike, playing tennis and Pilates. Early in 2022, she completed a gruelling trip with her motorbike for 3 weeks in the Himalayas.
Maranda’s enthusiasm for life is contagious and she will not let her axSpA stop her from achieving her dreams.
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