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Make Lupus Visible In Ghana

Accra, May 10, 2022 – “If we are able to get the right diagnosis of SLE or lupus, patients can get better care,” says Dr. Ahmed Habib, Medical Superintendent at the Volta Regional Hospital (formerly Hohoe Municipal Hospital) in support of World Lupus Day.

World Lupus Day 2022 themed ‘Make Lupus Visible’ is being marked in Ghana and around the world to highlight the impact of lupus on the body’s organs. Research in Ghana indicates that delay in diagnosis of lupus leads to prolonged suffering from inflammation and which can result in organ damage. There are many diagnosed as well as undiagnosed people suffering from lupus in Ghana.

The World Lupus Federation global survey 2022 indicates that 87% of people living with lupus have experienced at least one organ affected by the disease. According to the survey, majority of patients reported having multiple organs impacted by lupus with an average of three organs affected. The most common organs were skin (60%) and bones (45%). Other top impacted organs and organ systems including kidneys (36%), GI/Digestive system (34%), eyes (31%) and central nervous system (26%).

According to Dr. Habib, lupus is an autoimmune disease that many doctors are unable to pick if they do not increase their index of suspicion for such conditions. He affirmed that lupus awareness is important because sometimes patients are misdiagnosed and given other treatments.

He said, “If awareness is given to health workers, then many cases of sufferers of this condition can now be diagnosed and treatment can be given to them.”

Though there is no known cause, it is believed that exposure to certain environmental conditions, infections, certain medications, genes as well as hormones contribute to triggering lupus in people.

“It is crucial to make lupus visible because even the ‘normal or healthy’ person cannot tell whether s/he is susceptible to the cruel and complicated disease called lupus”, says Mrs. Emma Wilhelmina Halm Danso, Executive Director of Oyemam Autoimmune Foundation, “Lupus is that seemingly harmless butterfly that flies in and acts as a vicious and menacing wolf.”

Some symptoms that lupus patients present include butterfly rash, oral or nasal ulcers, arthritis, serositis as well as other disorders involving heart, kidney, lungs, nervous system, skin et cetera. Lupus is primarily diagnosed by rheumatologist who use different criteria such as the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria and Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) criteria for diagnosis. Many lupus patients may have positive antinuclear antibody (ANA), positive anti-dsDNA et cetera from their laboratory tests.

90 percent of lupus patients are women. Most of these patients are within the child-bearing age between 14-44 years. Each year Mother’s Day and Lupus Day are closely celebrated together in the May which is also Lupus Awareness Month. This is this is no mere coincidence according to the Mrs. Emma Danso who is a mother and a patient advocate.

“I want to use the occasion of World Lupus Day 2022 to particularly celebrate the wonderful mothers who put part of their lives on hold to care for their children and loved ones suffering lupus. They give care with love and fight with us through faith,” said Mrs. Danso.

She expressed her heart desire to see more support from national leadership, corporate and all Ghanaians for lupus and autoimmune diseases in Ghana. She stated that Oyemam Autoimmune Foundation has and will continue to remain committed to advocating and raising awareness to about lupus through its Lupus Awareness Campaign.

When a woman must be a mother, a wife, an employee, public servant or function in any other role they could excellently perform, it breaks the heart to be unable to do so due to the debilitating impact of lupus” the OYEMAM leader stated.

When lupus strikes a person, the immune system turns against self and attacks healthy tissues and organs. Accurate and timely diagnosis and treatment are necessary to arrest the condition to ensure that the impact of lupus on a patient’s quality of life is cancelled or minimised.

Mrs. Emma Danso
+233 546 196 276

Oyemam Autoimmune Foundation (OYEMAM) is a duly registered non-profit organization that undertakes advocacy, education, awareness creation, counselling as well as fundraising to provide support services such as medical assistance to patients. It is the hope of OYEMAM to inspire hope in patients as well as those impacted indirectly by autoimmune diseases, especially lupus. The NGO through its Lupus Awareness Campaign advocates and raises awareness about lupus in Ghana. The Foundation continues to call on the Government of Ghana to put autoimmunity on Ghana’s national agenda since many Ghanaians some of whom may be unaware suffer from autoimmune diseases and conditions. Oyemam Autoimmune Foundation is member of the World Lupus Federation.

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Twitter/ Instagram: @oyemamautoimmun / @oyemamautoimmune

About Lupus
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), also known as lupus, is a chronic, inflammatory, autoimmune disease affecting 5 million people worldwide with about 90% of these cases appearing in females. The body produces antibodies that attack its own healthy cells and tissues in addition to producing antibodies to protect against infection. Lupus can affect many different parts of the body, including the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, brain and blood vessels.

The most common symptoms include painful and swollen joints, extreme fatigue, skin rashes, anemia, and kidney problems. Typically, people with lupus have periods of illness, called flares, and periods of relative wellness, called remission. Severity of the illness can vary; some people with lupus can continue to live a normal life, while others experience frequent, life-threatening flares that require critical care. As there is no cure for lupus, the goals of treatment are to achieve and maintain disease remission, prevent flares, and prevent damage to the body’s organs and tissues.

About World Lupus Day
World Lupus Day is held annually on 10 May. The theme for 2022 ‘Make Lupus Visible’ marks the 19th annual observance of World Lupus Day, a global call-to-action on behalf of the millions of people around the world who are affected by lupus. The day serves as an opportunity to rally stakeholders around the world for the common purpose of drawing attention to and directing resources to end the suffering caused by this disabling and potentially fatal disease.

The Ministry of Health on behalf of the government of Ghana acknowledged lupus as a significant public health concern and ratified a proclamation for the observance of World Lupus Day in the year 2017. This year 2022 marks Ghana’s sixth year of observance of World Lupus Day.

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