President of the Lupus Foundation of Jamaica, Dr. Desiree Tulloch-Reid, is calling for increased awareness of the disease, which can lead to early detection and access to treatment.
This, as October is being observed as Lupus Awareness Month, under the theme ‘Children and Youth With Lupus: Saving Lives Through Knowledge and Support’.
“Increased awareness in the population, in the health profession, and other sphere of activity can make a big difference to outcomes and the quality of life of persons affected by this lifelong illness,” Dr. Tulloch-Reid told Jamaica Government News agency JIS.
She said lupus is a disease of the young, with the average onset age being 22 years and up to 20 per cent of people diagnosed being children.
“So, it has lifelong implications for them and they tend to have more severe challenges with their kidneys and the nervous system. Knowing about lupus is everybody’s business,” she stated.
The President further encouraged Jamaicans who are living with the disease, as well as their families, to join support groups, such as the Lupus Foundation, to benefit from practical advice and tips to help them cope with the condition.
“Lupus in children and youth generally manifests more severely with more frequent involvement of critical organ systems such as kidney, nervous system and blood, causing lupus to be, unfortunately, one of the significant medical causes of death among youth in Jamaica. The disease can also have a far-reaching impact on a child’s physical, academic and social development,” Dr. Tulloch-Reid said.
Throughout the month, the public can look forward to key events, including a special edition of the Foundation’s monthly live question and answer virtual programme, ‘Ask the Expert Live – Youth Edition’, and a family-friendly virtual event, Laps for Lupus Awareness on October 17, 2021.
Medical professionals will also be engaged with a virtual Lupus Symposium on October 31.
The main sponsors of the activities include the Jamaica National Group, Barita Investments Limited, and the National Health Fund (NHF).