Government and Media Join The Lupus Foundation of Jamaica in the call to increase knowledge and support for persons with Lupus.
Kingston, Jamaica, May 17, 2021
Thousands of Jamaicans continue to suffer the debilitating effects of Lupus, known medically as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, a lifelong disorder of the immune system. The Lupus Foundation of Jamaica continues the fight against Lupus through its education programmes, advocacy and support for persons living with the disease.
Monday May 10, 2021 marked the annual observation of World Lupus Day under the theme Make Lupus Visible. The Foundation joined with lupus groups across the world highlighting the need to increase awareness and knowledge of the disease, its wide impact and the need for earlier diagnosis, research, and access to treatment, health care and support for the many adults and children affected. The autoimmune condition which occurs at higher rates in Afro-Caribbean populations is estimated to affect some 6000 Jamaicans and an estimated 5 million persons worldwide.
Prime Minister Hon Andrew Holness, who in 2019 announced the addition of lupus to the list of conditions to receive medication subsidies from the National Health Fund, also joined in the call on May 10 through his Facebook page, endorsing the Foundation’s efforts and encouraging Jamaicans to support the initiative. “Let’s unite to spread awareness and increase understanding about Lupus.”
In observing the Day, the Foundation sought to increase visibility and share knowledge about Lupus through print and broadcast media as well as social media platforms, displays at hospitals, clinics and parish libraries, and a “Put On Purple” initiative with the distribution of purple ribbons and branded merchandise through the Organisation’s Lupus Learning Centre in New Kingston and via their online store.
The organisation also staged a free Virtual Event, Unmasking the Many Faces of Lupus, which opened with a video-recorded message from Dr the Hon Christopher Tufton, Minister of Health & Wellness, who applauded the Lupus Foundation of Jamaica for the work it has been doing. “The Government has also played its part in supporting initiatives that improve the awareness and understanding of the disease…I look forward to our continuous collaboration and I implore all Jamaicans to join together and support persons living with the disease.”
The Virtual Event, viewed live by over 500 persons on the Foundation’s YouTube and Facebook pages, was hosted by media practitioner Roxene Nickle of The Edge 105FM and featured several persons sharing their journeys with lupus, while medical specialists provided insights on the diagnosis and treatment of the disease. Other highlights included vox pop interviews with members of the public - "word on the street about lupus", a virtual tour of the Foundation's Learning Centre and volunteers sharing their experiences working with the volunteer-run charity.
Dr Desiree Tulloch-Reid, Consultant Rheumatologist and President of Lupus Foundation of Jamaica commented on the theme chosen. “Lupus and many autoimmune conditions are often referred to as “invisible illnesses” because there is often a lack of awareness and understanding both of the condition and the persons affected .“Lupus is also often referred to as ‘the Disease of Many Faces’ because of the various ways lupus can present itself. By “many faces” we also wanted to highlight the diversity of persons affected and their varied experiences during a lifelong journey with the illness”.
May 10 also kicked off the 37-year-old Charity’s month-long drive to raise funds to support the fight against Lupus through its programmes to assist persons living with the disease. The Foundation is inviting the support of the media, corporate Jamaica and the public at large in its call for volunteers and donations, as it faces both increased demand for services and funding challenges during the covid19 pandemic.
Lupus, known medically as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, is a disorder of the immune system. It causes the immune system to become over-reactive and produce antibodies that damage normal healthy cells and can be life-threatening. While Lupus patients have an over-reactive immune system, in most cases, they are not able to effectively cope with common infections. This makes Lupus patients among the high-risk groups for contraction of Covid-19.
The Lupus Foundation of Jamaica is a member-based, volunteer-run, non-profit organization in operation since 1984. It aspires to improve the lives and outcomes of persons affected by lupus through better awareness and a deeper understanding of the disease. Among its major activities are patient support and counselling, advocacy for access to care and promotion of research in the field.To learn more about Lupus and LFJ programs and services, please visit the Lupus Foundation of Jamaica’s website: www.lupusfoundationjamaica.org , or their social media pages: https://www.instagram.com/lupusfoundationja/, https://www.facebook.com/Lupusfoundationjamaica/.