Standard treatment, timely diagnosis can save rheumatic disease patients from disability


 Standard treatment, timely diagnosis can save
rheumatic disease patients from disability
Successive Governments have failed to recognize the
mportance of rheumatology - Pervez Malik

LAHORE: SLE is a very serious disease which can affect any organ of the body but quick and correct diagnosis can help the lupus sufferers live a normal life. In fact standard treatment and timely diagnosis can save the rheumatic disease patients from disability. This was stated by the speakers at a public awareness session on rheumatic diseases which was a part of the international conference of Pakistan Society for Rheumatology held here from October 12-14th 2012. This session which was organized in collaboration with Mir Khalilur Rehman Memorial Society and Jang Group of Publications was very well attended by rheumatologists as well as patients who also availed this opportunity to consult the specialists.Mr. Pervez Malik MNA who is associated with Lahore Businessmen Association for the Rehabilitation of Disabled was the chief guest on this occasion.

Prof. Nighat Mir along with Dr.Muhammad Ahmad Saeed presenting
a mementoe to Ms. Shahima Rehman Chairperson of
Fatima Memorial System during the international
conference of Pakistan Society of Rheumatology
at Lahore recently.

Mr. Pervez Malik in his speech said that successive governments in Pakistan have neglected rheumatology. It is sad that we do not have many centers where rheumatic patients can be treated. Now treatment for rheumatic diseases is available but it is very expensive. We must have more rheumatologists and improve this situation. PML (N) Government, he said, has made lot of investment in health sector and its impact will be visible in the days to come. He agreed that at present the standard of treatment is not desirable but he assured that government patronage will be there and the government will see if trained rheumatologists are appointed at all the major healthcare facilities in the country. He urged the University of Health Sciences to take it up and highlight the subject of rheumatology in undergraduate curriculum. We are providing some vocational training, education to the disabled people and the time has come that we must involve the community at large in managing diseases like tuberculosis, hypertension and diabetes mellitus. With the assistance of the community we have been successful to control dengue fever which was a major public health problem last year in the province. Disability affects not only the sufferers but the whole family; hence all efforts should be made to ensure timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Prof. Nighat Mir in her welcome address said that rheumatic diseases can affect any body at any age. Rheumatic diseases can be treated provided they are diagnosed in time. While our chief guest Mr. Pervez Malik is working in rehabilitation of the disabled, we prevent these disabilities. At times aspiration of fluids from the joints or use of corticosteroid injections has to be used. Treatment is no doubt very expensive but there is a hope. Looking after these rheumatic disease patients, she said, is a team work. Pakistan Society for Rheumatology is busy educating the healthcare professionals. SLE affects young boys and girls but now lot of advances has taken place in the management of SLE which offers good results. Deficiency of calcium and Vitamin D is the major problem in rheumatic diseases which can be prevented. Similarly early diagnosis of gout and osteoarthritis gives satisfactory results and improves the quality of life of these patients. We have formed the Arthritis Care Foundation to help those who cannot afford expensive treatment. Prof. Nabiha Hassan former Principal of FJMC was a role model for us. We have just thirty rheumatologists as against over three thousand which we require. At present there is no rheumatology center in any of the public sector hospitals and only three centers are recognized for training. We need a team work to prevent these disabilities, she added.
Prof. Azra Arif founder President of PSR advised the patients not to give up medication. Rheumatic diseases are preventable but need regular treatment. Newer treatment options, she opined, are very expensive but they do give hope. Dr. Javed Malik President of PSR said that obesity was a major risk factor and weight reduction helps. Now knee replacements offers good results and improve the quality of life. Patients should not feel shy in using the stick which distributes the body weight. The patients should take care of their bones and be careful of drug interactions while they are on multiple medications. Dr. Mahfooz Alam from Karachi opined that exercise and dietary restrictions go together. Responding to various questions from the audience the panelists remarked that massage and different oils does provide some relief of pain. They have a complementary role in management of pain in joints. The early warning signs for rheumatic diseases include rashes and constant fever is a red flag. SLE patients can have ulcer in mouth, can have fever, weight loss. Responding to another question it was stated that hand surgery is possible but it is very expensive. The small joints in hand can be replaced. Some patients might complain of nerve damage due to injections which has to be looked into. Rheumatic diseases can be seen in children. Use of Vitamin D in diet is useful. Sometimes patients are getting treatment for tuberculosis though they are suffering from rheumatic diseases that is why correct diagnosis is extremely important.
Mrs. Rehman Chairperson of Fatima Memorial Hospital System in her brief address said that their institution was a perfect hospital. She commended Prof. Nighat Mir and her team for taking the initiative to start training of rheumatologists at the hospital. Prof. Humayoun Maqsood Principal of Fatima Memorial College of Medicine and Dentistry in his speech said that during the last century lot of research has been done which has proven that rheumatic diseases affect all organs of the body. Now many rheumatic diseases can be prevented and cured and complications, disabilities can be avoided. Some of these diseases may be managed through diet but it is important to make correct timely diagnosis and then initiate appropriate treatment.
Earlier some case histories of SLE patients were presented while a few of the SLE patients who were diagnosed in time and were now under treatment living a normal life were also presented. Famous artist Ms.Tahira Naqvi was also suffering from SLE and since the disease was diagnosed much late, she died at a very young age.