Arthritis is the leading cause of disability among adults in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approximates that a third of adults living in the U. S. have arthritis, chronic joint symptoms or both. 50% of the people with arthritis are under the age of sixty-five and an estimated 200,000 children in the U. S. have arthritis. (www.cdc.gov/arthritis).
This calls for the urgent attention of health officers as arthritis leads to disability which impacts negatively on a person’s physical as well as mental health. There are over 120 types of arthritis and rheumatic disease. (www.arthritisnm.org). Severe cases may result in blindness, kidney failure and eventually death. People with severe arthritis are forced to live with physical limitations, which affect their lives including their careers. As a result most of these people have to quit their jobs as they cannot even do a simple task without experiencing a lot of pain. This affects their well-being and most people end up depending entirely on their relatives or friends.
It is therefore evident that arthritis is a major disease and should be given more attention. In Arizona, by the year 2030, eight out of every ten people will be suffering from arthritis. This means that it will assume the proportions of an epidemic and therefore something needs to be done before then. The best way to deal with a disease is through prevention. Prevention helps to bring down the spread of a disease to manageable levels. (www.arthritisnm.org).
Prevention in this case will mean making early diagnosis and treatment to mitigate the effects of arthritis. Once a person is diagnosed with symptoms of arthritis, he/she has to start treatment immediately to prevent any further spread of the disease.
There are at least eight categories of drugs that can be used to treat arthritis. These drugs delay the spread of arthritis before irreparable damage to the joint occurs. In addition to these drugs, there are in and out patient procedures as well as surgeries that can reduce the spread of arthritis. (www.cdc.gov/arthritis) Treatment helps to keep the disease in check before it gets out of control.
This initiative just like any other must face some obstacles. For instance how do you convince the young people to go for tests while arthritis is commonly seen as a disease for the elderly? To overcome this, there will be awareness campaigns aimed at enlightening people on the symptoms of arthritis, the far reaching effects of arthritis and the possible treatment for people with arthritis.
The awareness campaign will involve conducting door to door campaigns and sticking posters that educate people about the symptoms and the effects of arthritis. There will also be free open-air clinics to test for arthritis at designated places. In addition there will be adverts on both print and electronic media as part of the awareness campaign.
Many people particularly the youth and men have never gone for arthritis check up. This campaign will target these two groups in particular. Early diagnosis will have great benefit in the future as the number of elderly people with arthritis will reduce significantly in the future.
For this campaign to be regarded as successful, the government must offer its support. The government must first of all dedicate more funds to the research of arthritis. The government can work through institutions such as the Arizona University to fund this research. Research will be dedicated towards finding a cure for this ailment, which makes people disabled and helpless.
In addition to this, the government must also help to create awareness. This can be done in collaboration with non-governmental organizations tackling this issue. The government can set aside money to fund programs run by these groups.
To supplement these efforts, the government should subsidize the cost of healthcare such that even low income earners can afford treatment for this disease. It is worth noting that a third of people with arthritis do not have high school education. These same people have physical limitations as a result of arthritis that results in occupational limitations. This prevents them from earning a decent income to sustain them leave alone meeting their medical costs.
The government should ensure that there is a comprehensive medical scheme to cover such ailments. Health care has always been a thorn in the flesh for successive governments. The government should create policies that ensure health care is affordable to all. Health matters are of paramount importance as there can be no meaningful economic development if the working force is ailing and there is no one to look after them. Otherwise people will be rendered jobless yet they do not have income to manage this disease.
Through healthcare lobby groups, the government can be pressured to do something. The government needs to be aware that arthritis affects the productivity of people who engage in meaningful economic activity and who contribute immensely to the well being of the economy. Failure to act now means that the government will be forced to commit more resources in future to the treatment of arthritis while this could have been avoided through taking preventative measures.
http:// www.cdc.gov/arthritis as accessed on 26/07/08.
www.arthritisnm.org as accessed on 26/07/08.