Lupus Foundation launches campaign for children and youthSunday, October 03, 2021
Unlike most chronic conditions, lupus is considered a disease of the young, with the average onset age being 22 years and up to 20 per cent of people diagnosed being children.
With this in mind, the Lupus Foundation of Jamaica (LFJ) chose the theme 'Children and Youth With Lupus: Saving Lives Through Knowledge and Support' to anchor its observance of Lupus Awareness Month this October. The observance of October as focal point for lupus is a seminal event each year in Jamaica and the wider Commonwealth territories.
Lupus is a serious lifelong autoimmune condition that occurs in high rates in Jamaica and Afro-Caribbean populations, with an estimated six thousand Jamaicans living with the sometimes life-threatening disorder.
The campaign, launched on October 1, will encompass video features, live media interviews and enhanced public education efforts, which will be broadcast throughout October on the YouTube and Facebook pages of sponsors Jamaica National Group and Barita Investments Limited.
Additional public engagement will be channelled through social media, school-based and community-based activities such as church service, Put-on-Purple Fridays and a children's poster competition.
As October progresses, the lupus community and the general public can look forward to other key events, including a special edition of the foundation's monthly live Q & A virtual programme, Ask The Expert Live – Youth Edition, and a family-friendly virtual event, Laps for Lupus Awareness on October 17, 2021. Medical professionals will also be engaged with a virtual Lupus Symposium on October 31, 2021 sponsored by the National Health Fund and livestreamed free to the public.
Dr Desiree Tulloch-Reid, consultant rheumatologist and president of LFJ, pointed out that lupus in children and youth generally manifests more severely with more frequent involvement of critical organ systems such as kidney, nervous system and blood, causing lupus to be, unfortunately, one of the significant medical causes of death among youth in Jamaica.
Dr Tulloch-Reid added that the disease can also have a far-reaching impact on a child's physical, academic and social development.
Further, greater awareness in the wider society can promote earlier detection and access to effective treatment, reduce stigma and encourage greater support for those living with lupus and their families.
Subsequently, the LFJ urged corporate Jamaica and the members of the public to join in supporting a campaign aimed at increasing awareness and improving outcomes of children and youth living with lupus.
Services being offered by the foundation include a help centre, monthly newsletter, educational materials and programming, support group meetings, member medical assistance and counselling, advocacy and promotion of patient-centred research. The public is invited to visit the LFJ website or social media, or contact the centre for more information about upcoming events and activities, the work the foundation is doing, and guidance on how to join, donate or volunteer.
Dr Tulloch-Reid added: “Knowledge about lupus does save lives and everyone can support the fight against lupus.”