Monalisa Chinda-Coker, Monalisa Chinda

Ferdinand Ekechukwu reports that to commemorate World Lupus Day on May 10, 2021, Monalisa Foundation is organising a series of activities aimed at increasing awareness of the disease

As the world seeks to understand more of the disease, May 10 has been dedicated by the World Lupus Federation as World Lupus Day to bring greater attention and resources to efforts aimed at ending the suffering caused by this disabling and potentially fatal autoimmune disease.

The annual event serves to draw global focus to the debilitating impact of Lupus while addressing the need for improved patient healthcare services as well as increased research into the causes of and cure for lupus.

While this condition has no boundaries, understanding Lupus can help control its impact. Therefore to mark this occasion of the World Lupus Day on May 10, 2021, Arise Monalisa Foundation (AMF), a not-for-profit organisation founded by veteran multi award-winning actress, TV show host and humanist, Monalisa Chinda-Coker, in collaboration with Jackie and the Butterfly, is organising a series of activities aimed at increasing awareness of the disease in Nigeria.

With the theme of this year’s event tagged “Make Lupus Visible”, which brings to the front burner of discourse on key issues pertaining to health and well-being, this year’s theme is greatly significant as it reflects the need to close up the yawning gap in available information relating to Lupus.

Part of activities planned to mark the event will include a 2km Sensitisation Walk around Unity Fountain Abuja on Saturday, May 8, by 7:00am.

This will be followed by a symposium on Monday, May 10, by 10:00am at Hilton Hotel. Expected at the event are the First Lady, Ministers of Health and Federal Capital Territory, healthcare workers, pharmaceutical companies as well as other well-meaning Nigerians and members of the press.

In addition to the Lupus awareness programme, Arise Monalisa Foundation is also intent on providing health intervention activities, in collaboration with Benjamin Olowojebutu Foundation, for patients suffering from fibroids, breast lumps, hernia and lipoma.

Monalisa Chinda-Coker - Monalisa Chinda

The intervention will involve visits to selected states by a team of surgeons led by Dr. Benjamin Olowojebutu, a CNN Hero Award Nominee, to perform surgeries on the patients with the above-mentioned ailments.

This medical outreach is designed to help bring relief to rural dwellers that can ill-afford the cost of these surgeries by bringing their health solutions to them right where they are in their localities.

With the mission to inspire hope, promote creativity and create opportunities, AMF has over the years, actively worked in association with other well-meaning organisations to provide empowerment initiatives for indigent women, youths and children in Nigeria.

However, this healthcare affair is timely as it brings to spotlight the awareness on Lupus, a systemic autoimmune disease, a condition in which the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy tissues and organs.

In this context, it is a chronic disease that can result in inflammation and pain in any part of the body, and while it affects both genders, women are known to be more susceptible.

Patients with Lupus experience a loss of self-tolerance as a result of abnormal immunological function and the production of autoantibodies, which leads to the formation of immune complexes that may adversely affect healthy tissue.

According to experts, the manifestations differ from person to person with attacks on major functioning parts of the human body like; joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart and lungs.

Symptoms include fatigue, pain and swelling in the joints, sensitivity to light, chest pain, fever, headaches among others. Not much is known about the cause of the disease but attributions can be made to genetic and environmental factors as likely triggers.

Lupus can therefore be described as an emerging disease, with increasing incidences of it being experienced globally. Nigeria has little or no data on Lupus even though there have been a few reported cases.

Data available in the United States indicate that an approximate 16,000 new cases are being reported annually while 1,500,000 people in the US are already living with the disease suffered by over 5 million people worldwide.

Existing information also point to the fact that women of African descent are among those who have the greatest risk of contracting the disease which makes Nigerian women vulnerable.

Experts further observed that there are four main types of Lupus: Neonatal, Discoid, Drug-induced, and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) – which is the type that affects most patients.

Sadly, a large majority of people have little to no idea about Lupus, often confusing it with arthritis, a much less serious disease. Many people have no idea Lupus even exists until they or somebody they know is diagnosed with it.