Lupus, also known as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), is a chronic, inflammatory, autoimmune disease affecting five million people worldwide with about 90 per cent of these cases appearing in females.
It mostly happens when the body produces antibodies that attack its own healthy cells and tissues in addition to producing antibodies to protect against infection and can affect many different parts of the body, including the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, brain, and blood vessels.
Dr Habib told the Ghana News Agency in an interview to commemorate World Lupus Day that it was extremely important to make right diagnosis for doctors not to increase their index of suspicion for such conditions.
The Day, on the theme, “Make Lupus Visible” is celebrated on May 10 every year to create awareness on the disease.
He noted that lupus awareness creation was crucial because patients were sometimes 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 rightly and treatment can be given to them on time.”
Some symptoms of lupus include butterfly rash, oral or nasal ulcers, arthritis, serositis as well as other disorders involving heart, kidney, lungs, nervous system, and the skin.
It 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.
The World Lupus Federation global survey 2022 indicates that 87 per cent 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 per cent, bones 45 per cent.
Other top impacted organs include kidney 36 per cent, Digestive system 34 per cent, eyes 31 per cent and central nervous system 26 per cent.
The Medical Superintendent stated that though there was no known cause of the sickness, it is believed that exposure to certain environmental conditions, infections, certain medications, genes as well as hormones contribute to triggering lupus in people.
Dr Habib called on persons with such symptoms to visit the hospital for proper attention.
Mrs Emma Wilhelmina Halm Danso, the Executive Director of Oyemam Autoimmune Foundation, speaking to the GNA, also called for the need to make lupus visible because even the “normal or healthy” person could not tell whether he or she was susceptible to the disease.
She said 90 per cent of lupus patients were women within their child-bearing age.
Coincidentally, Lupus Day is celebrated each year alongside Mother’s Day.
“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 from lupus. They give care with love and fight with us through faith,” Mrs. Danso stated.
She appealed for more support from leaders, corporate society and Ghanaians for lupus and autoimmune diseases in Ghana.
She pledged Oyemam Autoimmune Foundation’s continued commitment in advocating and raising awareness about lupus through its Lupus Awareness Campaign.
Mrs Danso also called for accurate and timely diagnosis and treatment for persons with the condition to ensure that the impact of lupus on patients would be minimized.