Include lupus to the Non Communicable Diseases list: AIIMS doc
India’s list of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) has not been updated in a long time, and doctors at AIIMS want the autoimmune disease-- lupus, added to the list.health Updated: May 10, 2017 13:50 IST
The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMMS) demands Lupus, an autoimmune disease that Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s late wife, Sunanda Pushkar, was reportedly suffering from, be included in the health ministry’s list of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
The demand is to highlight the need for intensifying government’s focus on the disease that affects about five million people worldwide, which will bring down the cost of treatment.
The condition commonly affects women in their reproductive age group (20-40 years).
“The NCD list hasn’t been reviewed for a long time. It should be updated to include lupus,” says Dr Uma Kumar, head of department of rheumatology, AIIMS.
“Despite a high burden of the disease, awareness about lupus is dismal among public, policy makers and even physicians in developing countries, particularly in India. Even WHO, which monitors prevalence of chronic diseases, doesn’t mention lupus, highlighting the urgent need to spread awareness about it.”
Close to 20% of all patients who visit the out patient departments (OPDs) of rheumatology suffer from lupus and still people do not even know what are the basic factors that trigger the disease that results in deformity and irreversible organ damage.
“Patients require lifelong treatment once they get lupus and sometimes the patient does not respond to the first line drugs. In such cases second line drugs that include biological agents have to be prescribed, which escalates the cost,” she says.
Diseases under the Union health ministry’s NCD list have special programmes and adding Lupus to the list would help in creating awareness about the condition and getting medicines at subsidised rates.
The disease is known to cause organ damage— kidneys, heart etc., and even the skin.
Though the exact cause of Lupus is not yet known, the factors that jointly contribute to occurrence of the disease are exposure to ultra violet rays, air pollution, toxic substances such as pesticides, vitamin D deficiency and even hereditary factors.
Symptoms could include prolonged fever, oral ulcers, excessive hair fall, skin rashes and joint ache.
Also, the state of ongoing inflammation in the body leads to premature atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries), hyper tension, coronary artery disease, and reduced lifespan in the long run.
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First Published: May 10, 2017 13:47 IST