Middle East Arthritis Foundation to shed light and bust misconceptions about the debilitating disease on its global awareness day
Leading experts to share breakthrough innovations in improving the lives of people with auto-immune diseases; patients and caregivers to help create further awareness, share inspirational stories and promote the support network for everyone to have access.
15 September 2022, Dubai, UAE – The Middle East Arthritis Foundation (MEAF), a non-profit organization that strives to breathe life into leading ideas on health, hope and happiness, will host its first in-person event in two years on 15th October 2022, at the Shangri La Hotel, Dubai, to mark World Arthritis Day (WAD), observed globally on 12th October every year to spread awareness on arthritis and ease the struggles of people fighting this debilitating disease. This year’s event under the theme ‘Inspired by Patients…Driven by Passion!’ aims to underline the importance of awareness about the symptoms of various autoimmune and rheumatic musculoskeletal conditions, as early diagnosis of auto-immune diseases such as arthritis can lead to better treatment possibilities and interventions.
The event will be an opportunity for patients and caregivers to interact with specialists and be aware of the breakthrough innovations in emerging treatment plans and challenges. The year will also mark MEAF’s creative collaborations with diverse organizations as it is a crucial step to elevate the pressing need to enhance arthritis awareness and its far-reaching impacts, and public engagement plays a pivotal role in the success of health campaigns.
There are more than 100 types of autoimmune and rheumatic musculoskeletal conditions, from osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease that impacts 3.3–3.6% of the population globally, to juvenile idiopathic arthritis, a common type of arthritis in kids and teens. However, a lack of public awareness and information about different forms of arthritis creates gaps in medical care and adequate treatment.
Arthritis is often viewed as an inevitable part of growing old, but in reality, it is one of the leading causes of disability, affecting 350 million people across different age groups globally. According to World Health Organization, 23 million people live with Rheumatoid Arthritis, of which women are two times more affected than men, and experts predict that the number of RA patients will double by 2030.
The programs and discussions from 9 am to 4 pm will bring together leading experts in rheumatology, mental health, fitness, agility, and food and nutrition. Some sessions will also be led by arthritis patients and patient advocates to discuss the best practices and initiatives for improving life quality and ways to overcome challenges and live well despite dealing with a chronic illness.
The panel discussion on Journey to Wellness & Empowerment will feature specialists in rheumatology and arthritis patients who successfully built a professional career or business. The expert panel will comprise of:
Dr Sadia Asif, Specialist in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology, Zulekha Hospital, Dubai
Dr Ahmed Abogamal, Professor of Rheumatology Al- Azhar University, Head of the Arab League of Associations for Rheumatology- Musculoskeletal Sonography Group (ARLAR MSUS), Chairman of the Scientific Committee of Emirates Osteoporosis Society (EOS) and Member of the Group for Research and Assessment of Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis (GRAPPA)
Dr Ghita Harifi, Consultant Rheumatologist, Mediclinic Parkview Hospital and Assistant Professor at Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences.
There will also be sessions which address topics such as daily life with arthritis; fitness and agility training, how mind-body practices benefit arthritis patients; managing stress and the role of gut health in autoimmunity. Fadwa Lkorchy, an American Board Certified Psychologist and Personality Dimensions Trainer will deliver the session on mental health management, and Dr Nas Al Jafari, Functional Medicine Practitioner and Medical Director of DNA Health Clinic, will lead the discussions on food and gut health.
Dr. Humeira Badsha, Founding Member of the Middle East Arthritis Foundation, stated, “There are more than 100 types of arthritis, and the lack of adequate awareness impacts the effective management of its symptoms. The objective to organize this year’s event in person is to educate the public on the growing prevalence of different forms of arthritis, which can affect people of any age, and put special emphasis on the importance of early diagnosis and preventing arthritis through lifestyle choices. As managing and living well with a chronic health condition is a daily challenge, the sessions are designed to support patients and their care providers to gain access to the correct information, advice from experts and knowledge of the latest treatment plans.”
The event will also feature Circles of Sharing and Caring Session in which arthritis patients and their caregivers from across the UAE will share their experience of living well with arthritis and stories of courage and determination in the face of everyday challenges in managing and coping with a chronic illness. The other highlights of the day are free ultrasound scanning of hands for arthritis and bone density test for osteoporosis; Tai Chi session by Yasser Bilgrami; live yoga and meditation led by Akil; Dance and Movement session by Dans Troupe and a lucky draw competition.
MEAF’S efforts to empower people combating the debilitating effects of these chronic conditions and commitment to improving their life quality by ensuring that their symptoms are effectively managed are supported by organizations such as Novartis, AbbVie, Eli Lilly and Company, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, NewBridge Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer and Sandoz.