THE Punjab government needs to establish separate wards for the treatment of arthritis (joint pain) as provincial public sector hospitals lack facility to provide specialised treatment for the disease.
This was the consensus among speakers at a seminar on “Living with Arthritis – Every Day Counts” held in connection with World Arthritis Day organised by Mir Khalil-ur-Rehman Memorial Society (Jang Group of Newspapers) in collaboration with the Pakistan Society for Rheumatology and Roche here at a local hotel on Wednesday.
Speaking on the occasion, Prof Nighat Mir Ahmad, president, Pakistan Society for Rheumatology, said that arthritis was caused due to excess of uric acid, shortage of vitamin-D, quality hygienic food, lack of physical exercise and obesity. She said that arthritis could be avoided by controlling the uric acid, and it could be cured by timely intervention for treatment. She said that the arthritis was mostly found among women, but it could affect any one from children, young and adolescent and elderly people.
She lamented the critical shortage of specialist doctors for the treatment of arthritis, adding that there was a need of at least 2,000 specialists for specialised treatment of arthritis. “The shortage of doctors is also contributing to spread of arthritis because it isn’t diagnosed at an early stage,” she said, adding that treatment of arthritis was very expensive. She stressed the need to create awareness to control the spread of disease among people, adding, “It is really shameful of us if 10 per cent of the total population is left to live their lives on wheelchairs.”
She said that arthritis also affected other organs, including eyes, heart, kidneys and lungs.
Punjab Parliamentary Secretary of Health Dr Saeed Elahi assured that the Punjab government would soon establish separate wards for specialised treatment for arthritis in teaching hospitals while specialists would be recruited for the treatment of
He said the Punjab government accorded top priority to health and education sectors as the PML-N government, since taking over Punjab government, had raised the health budget to Rs 46 billion from Rs 10 billion for the health sector. “The health budget will be further raised in next two years,” he added.
He said the Punjab government had regularised the services of doctors and professors serving on contract basis, adding that professors would soon get a salary package of Rs 200,000 per month and medical officers from Rs 70,000 to Rs 80,000 per month. Besides, he said, medicines worth Rs 6 billion were being provided in emergency wards free of cost.
Dr Azra Arif Ali, founder president of the Pakistan Society for Rheumatology, said that arthritis affected entire body, while kidney, lungs and eyes could be badly affected due to this disease. She said that arthritis mostly affected women as girls usually suffered from arthritis in the early twenties before their marriages, adding that symptoms of arthritis included swollen knee joint, deformity of feet, slow in getting up and straightening of the body. “The arthritis gets deteriorated if it is not diagnosed and treated within three months of this disease,” she added.
Dr MA Wajid said the lack of proper food and physical exercise dropped the level of calcium in the body and caused arthritis and osteoporosis among the people. He, however, said the joints and knees could also be replaced.
Dr Abu Bakar Siddique said that polio and arthritis were two different diseases, adding that arthritis was a major issue of health worldwide, therefore it was paramount to woke up to this disease and establish special wards to control it effectively. He said that the arthritis patients should focus on their proper food and exercise, control their weight. He said that if patients kept their legs in proper shape and direction during sleep then arthritis could be controlled considerably. He advised the arthritis patients to adopt extreme care while going to the bathroom at night because any accidental fall could break their bones. However, he said that up to 90 percent of patients could get relief from this disease by proper precautions and treatment.
Prof Humayun Maqsood, principal, FMH College of Medicine and Dentistry, Dr Sumaira Farman Raja, general secretary of Pakistan Society for Rheumatology, Dr Farhan and others also spoke on the occasion.
MKRMS Chairman Wasif Nagi hosted the seminar while Kashan Haider, Ali Imran, and Shahzad Rauf assisted him.