New Delhi, May 9 : The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on Tuesday sought inclusion of lupus -- a chronic autoimmune disease -- in the Health Ministry's list of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), so that the government's focus on the disease increases, similar to others in the list.

According to the premiere referral hospital, though one per cent of the patients of every rheumatology out-patient department have lupus, people do not even know about the basic factors that trigger the disease, resulting in deformity and irreversible organ damage.

Also, the state of ongoing inflammation in the body leads to premature atherosclerosis, hypertension, coronary artery disease and cerebrovascular accidents reduces lifespan.

"Our NCD list is very old and needs a review. There is an urgent need to add lupus in the list, so that government focuses on the disease increases and the programmes to raise awareness about it are launched across the country," said Uma Kumar, Head of Rheumatology Department at AIIMS, speaking to reporters here.

According to Kunmar, there is little awareness on lupus among general public globally, and even the World Health Organisation (WHO), which monitors prevalence of chronic diseases, like diabetes mellitus, heart diseases and cancer, in developing countries through step-wise surveillance programmes, is yet to make a mention of lupus.

An estimated five million people worldwide have lupus and it develops more often in women. Lupus can damage any organ from skin to kidneys, heart, etc.

Although the exact cause of lupus is not documented, the factors that jointly contribute to occurrence of the disease are ultra violet rays, air pollution, genetic issues, biomarkers and environment, among others.

Asked, what benefits patients can expect if lupus is added to the NCD list, Kumar explained that diseases under the Health Ministry's NCD list had special programmes from the government's end with a special effort to eliminate those.

"Also the prices of medicines for lupus...which now is comparatively high now, can get subsidised if the governments wants," Kumar told IANS.

Inclusion of lupus in the list could also intensify research on the disease, he added.

 

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