Materia Medica Malaysiana

May 11, 2007

Move to register lupus patients

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:46 am

Star: PETALING JAYA: A national registry to identify and register patients suffering from Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) will be set up soon so that a concerted effort can be taken by the Health Ministry to overcome the chronic disease.
The SLE Association Malaysia (SLEAM) will start the ball rolling. Ministry parliamentary secretary Datuk Dr Lee Kah Choon said there were an estimated 10,000 Malaysians afflicted with the disease.
He, however, said this could only be the tip of the iceberg.
“There might still be many patients out there who are not aware that they may be lupus sufferers and so we must have the data to know how to tackle it,” Dr Lee said after participating in the World Lupus Day proclamation yesterday.
SLE is an auto-immune disease meaning it causes the immune system to turn against parts of the body it is supposed to protect. It can affect the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels and the brain.
“Unfortunately, SLE is not an easy disease to diagnose as the symptoms that show up mimic many common illnesses,” said SLEAM acting president Assoc Prof Dr Esha Das Gupta.
Dr Esha said the “disease with a thousand faces” projected symptoms like painful or swollen joints, unexplained fever and extreme fatigue.
She said it could be fatal if it affected the kidneys, heart or brain but was highly treatable if detected early.
“As statistics go, 90% of sufferers are women while men and children make up the remaining 10%. There is usually a triggering factor in a person, who is genetically inclined, that will cause the disease,” she said.
Dr Esha added that it was also a disease of the young (15 – 45 years of age) and its economic impact was large considering it could strike those in the prime of their life.
As for treatment, Dr Esha said there were specialist government hospitals equipped with combined clinics where the relevant specialists would sit side by side to treat patients.
Dr Esha said the association was also looking to hire counsellors to help those afflicted with the disease to cope, as they were now relying on volunteers who were also lupus sufferers.

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