The launch was under the patronage of the Minister of Public Health Mr. Ali Hassan Khalil represented by Dr. Asaad Khoury, and was attended by members of the Lebanese Society of Rheumatology and members the press.
June is the RA awareness month in Lebanon as proclaimed since last year by the Ministry of Public Health. RA, the most common and serious forms of arthritis, is a chronic disease, mainly characterized by inflammation of the lining, or synovium, of the joints. It can lead to long-term joint damage, resulting in chronic pain, loss of function and disability. The 2012 awareness campaign will highlight the importance of early diagnosis by detecting signs and symptoms as well as giving the right treatment depending on the severity of the disease.
“It is about time that diseases like RA became a priority,” said Dr. Asaad Khoury on behalf of the Minister of Public Health Mr. Ali Hassan Khalil. “Rheumatoid Arthritis is a complex and devastating disease if left untreated. Early diagnosis and referral to a rheumatologist is essential to spare patients from the disease progressing to irreversible stages that can be disabling and can affect many aspects of daily living.”
Dr. Georges Merheb, President of the Lebanese Society of Rheumatology explained that early treatment can limit the condition and even cause remission but it still takes many months from the first signs of the disease until a formal diagnosis is made and treatment can begin. He said: “Such delay can have enormously serious consequences for the patient: such as disability, damage to heart and lungs, inability to work and a significantly shorted life expectancy. The root of this delay is a widespread lack of knowledge. People with symptoms do not recognize that they might be suffering from the disease or what the consequences of delaying going to a doctor might be.”
Commenting on the Campaign Mr. Abed Al Rahman Sabra, Country Manager of Hoffmann-La Roche in Lebanon added: “The primary purpose of Roche in supporting public health awareness campaigns is to provide health education information on diseases that can benefit both patients and people who are not afflicted with it. Such national campaigns should encourage the general public to take proactive and positive steps in relation to their health like seeking medical advice from healthcare professionals and make lifestyle choices.”
“Today research advancement in the field of rheumatoid arthritis has advanced tremendously offering patients a better quality of life,” he stated.
As part of the awareness campaign activities and to ensure that the campaign reaches all segments of the society, the Municipality of Beirut joined forces to increase direct public awareness outreach. The health promotion will also be promoted digitally through Facebook, twitter, blogs, leading Lebanese portals and online news sites.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, progressive inflammatory disease of the joints and surrounding tissues that is associated with intense pain, irreversible joint destruction and systemic complications such as fatigue and anaemia. RA affects 1% of the Lebanese population according to the Lebanese Society of Rheumatology.
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