Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Arthritis patients in Emirates suffer from late diagnosis

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis in the UAE are diagnosed a year later than those in other parts of the world.

DUBAI // Patients with rheumatoid arthritis in the UAE are diagnosed a year later than those in other parts of the world, while far fewer of them reach remission, a study has found. The study, which examined 5,848 people in 24 countries, was published in Arthritis and Rheumatism Journal. It found that UAE patients took an average of 18 months to diagnose, compared with six months in most western countries.

The study also found that just 18 per cent of sufferers in the UAE achieved remission, compared with between 36 per cent and 40 per cent in western countries. And just five per cent of patients are taking the medication needed to put the illness into remission, compared to 40 per cent in the US, said Dr Humeira Badsha, who was a principal investigator on the study in the UAE. The main problems were a lack of awareness about the disease and ways to treat it, as well as too few specialists, she said.

"People often get diagnosed very late here... it is a lack of awareness and a lack of rheumatologists." Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, systemic disorder that causes the immune system to attack the joints, causing them to become swollen and inflamed. It can also affect some organs, such as the lungs and skin. Symptoms of the illness include red, swollen joints that are warm to the touch, joint pain and stiffness and loss of joint function.

Dr Badsha, who works as a specialist rheumatologist at the Dubai Bone and Joint Centre, said another problem was when patients sought help from a family doctor, and did not receive the right tests to detect the disease. She said they need to see rheumatologists, who are experts in the disease and are typically responsible for diagnosis and long-term management. Another problem is the cost of medications. Dr Badsha said the best chance of disease remission was through a combination of medications, including new biological drugs, some of which are very costly.

"Insurance companies cover this treatment in only 50 per cent of cases," she said. munderwood@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 An Egyptian Orthodox Christian priest give communion during the Palm Sunday service inCairo, Egypt. Mohamed El-Shahed / AFP

Region in focus - April 18, 2014

The best images of the last seven days from around the Gulf and across the Middle East.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

Video: Local reactions to a national fishing ban

A federal fishing ban has been imposed by the UAE federal government, but local authorities are taking diiferent approaches to implementing the ban. Two fishermen tell two very different sides of the story. Produced by Paul O'Driscoll

 Hamburg players leave the field after the match against Borussia Moenchengladbach on March 30, 2014. AFP

Hamburg the dinosaur’s time may be up in Bundesliga

Ever-present for 51 years in the German top-flight, Hamburg face the prospect of relegation, writes Ian Hawkey.

 The new Bentley GT Speed convertible on display at a press event of the New York International Auto Show. Jason Szenes / EPA

In pictures: Hot cars at New York International Auto Show

With more than 1 million visitors annually, the New York International Auto Show is one of the most important shows for the US car industry. Here are some of the vehicles to be shown in this year’s edition.

 The cast of Fast & Furious 7, including Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel, centre, on set at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Fast & Furious 7 filming in full swing at Emirates Palace

Filming for Fast & Furious 7 has started and we have the first photos of the cast and crew on set at Emirates Palace hotel this morning. Visitors staying at Emirates Palace say they have been kept away from certain areas in the grounds.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National