Pfizer Highlights Growing Medical and Social Burden of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Expert roundtable featuring top healthcare professionals discussed the autoimmune disease that can cause short-term to permanent disability
JOHANNESBURG, June 28, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Pfizer has hosted an expert roundtable to highlight the disease burden of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in South Africa. Dr. Ingrid Louw, Rheumatologist, Panorama Medical Centre and Dr. Elsa Van Duuren, Rheumatologist, Jacaranda Hospital, interacted with media professionals to share medical insights on the condition alongside the latest clinical advances that seek to achieve better patient outcomes.
RA is an autoimmune disease, where the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's own tissues, with some patients already having manifestations of joint damage as early as three months after the onset of RA symptoms, with most people developing joint damage within two years.
Dr. Ingrid Louw, Rheumatologist, Panorama Medical Centre said, "RA affects the small joints of the hand, wrist, and feet before affecting larger joints and if left untreated can cause deformity and disability. With debilitating symptoms that include pain and stiffness, people with RA are seen to have lowered functional status. Healthcare professionals, general physicians and rheumatologists need to identify RA early and commence appropriate therapy as soon as possible."
Dr. Elsa Van Duuren, Rheumatologist, Jacaranda Hospital added, "Adequate treatment of RA is key to preventing or lessening the severity of co-morbidities, particularly cardiovascular disease, which is still a major cause of mortality in these patients. Apart from treating RA, the patient should ideally be treated by a multidisciplinary team to address other associations of this disease which range from psychological help with anxiety and depression to guidance with physical therapy by physiotherapists or biokineticists and help with daily activities by occupational therapists."
Dr. Bha Ndungane-Tlakula, Country Medical Director, Pfizer South Africa commented, "We want to work closely with the healthcare community to ensure earlier diagnosis, increased patient access and medication adherence. RA patients have been reported to experience losses in function both at work and socially, posing considerable costs to quality of life and also the economy due to sick leave and work-related disability."
RA predominantly affects women but small studies in countries including South Africa has showed a high male to female ratio that was inconsistent with global trends.
 Usenbo A, Kramer V, Young T, Musekiwa A 2015) Prevalence of Arthritis in Africa: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. PLoS ONE 10(8): e0133858. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0133858
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