Ankura Hospital

Hyderabad: 25th March 2024: Despite common misconceptions, rheumatological diseases can also affect children, impacting their joints, muscles, skin, and even internal organs. However, in India, there is a severe lack of awareness regarding this issue. While in Western countries, studies indicate a prevalence ranging from 1/1000 to 4/1000 children, in India, there is a lack of epidemiological data. Nonetheless, estimations suggest that approximately 1.3 million children suffer from Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) and 200,000 from Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) alone.

While many of these conditions affect adults as well, children with rheumatic diseases require special care. Treatment necessitates the expertise of pediatric rheumatology specialists who understand the unique needs of young patients. Unfortunately, in India, diagnoses often occur after irreversible damage has already occurred due to a lack of awareness. This delayed diagnosis leads to worse outcomes for young patients, impacting their growth and causing permanent joint or organ damage.

To address this issue, World Young Rheumatic Diseases Day was celebrated at Ankura Hospital for Women and Children, Banjara Hills branch. The event aimed to raise awareness among parents, doctors, and primary practitioners about childhood rheumatic diseases. It emphasized the importance of early diagnosis and prompt referral to specialized paediatric rheumatologists to prevent delays. Ms Malavath Purna, the world-renowned mountaineer, and the youngest female to summit Mount Everest graced the event as the esteemed Chief Guest. She inspired hope and resilience among children suffering from rheumatic diseases.

Dr Anjani Gummadi, Paediatric Rheumatologist and Immunologist at Ankura Hospital for Women and Children highlighted the significance of early diagnosis and prompt treatment in enabling children to lead near-normal lives. She emphasized, “The only way to reduce the debility of rheumatic diseases in children is early diagnosis and prompt treatment by experts, which allows children to lead near-normal lives. Also, these children require close monitoring by the paediatric rheumatologists as these diseases tend to be progressive.”

Parents shared their experiences, expressing gratitude for the event, as many had experienced delays in diagnosis.

Fun activities and painting competitions engaged both kids and parents, fostering moments of joy and relief. Dr K.K. Durga Prasad, Medical Director and Senior Paediatrician at Ankura Hospital for Women and Children expressed satisfaction in connecting with families, children, and doctors, foreseeing a positive impact on understanding rheumatic diseases in children. He said, “I am extremely happy that we could connect with many families, children, and doctors today through this event. I am sure this will have a big impact on our understanding of rheumatic diseases in children.”