Even as the country accounts for one of the highest rates of lupus worldwide, according to noted rheumatologist Dr Desiree Tulloch-Reid, Jamaican doctors are not equipped to properly diagnose the autoimmune disease because of the unavailability of a particular type of testing equipment on the island.
Samples therefore have to be sent to the United States.
Tulloch-Reid, who is president of the Lupus Foundation of Jamaica, made the revelation last week at the Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange held to discuss this year’s staging of the Sagicor Sigma Corporate Run. The foundation, Diabetes Association of Jamaica, and May Pen Hospital in Clarendon are the beneficiaries of the fund-raising event scheduled for February 17, with a target of $52 million.
Tulloch-Reid is hoping the proceeds from the run will contribute to acquiring the equipment.
“One of the programmes to which the proceeds from the Sigma run is hoped to contribute is to procuring a piece of critical equipment that will make sure that we are able to diagnose lupus earlier, with greater accuracy, and also identify persons who are at risk of more serious complications,” Dr Tulloch-Reid said.
“This will allow proper and accurate testing to be accessible in Jamaica. A number of the tests that we need to run to properly assess a patient who has lupus have to be done overseas, and this makes it inaccessible to so many,” she added.
Dr Tulloch-Reid said that the estimated prevalence for lupus in Jamaica is as high as one in 250 people.
Lupus is a long-term autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal, healthy tissue. Symptoms include inflammation, swelling, and damage to the joints, skin, kidneys, blood, heart, and lungs.