To raise awareness and make a difference for people affected by Lupus in Nigeria, experts from Labalaba Foundation for Lupus Awareness and Advocacy have urged patients to make their rheumatologists their best friends and go for constant check up. The foundation made this call in partnership with Rheumatology and Dermatology Clinics of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) and the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital on World Lupus Day 2018 in Lagos recently. According to a Consultant Dermatologist and Genito-Urinary Physician, LUTH, Dr. Ayesha Akinkugbe, Lupus knows no boundaries. It affects anyone on any organ anywhere in the world. She described it as a chronic, complex autoimmune disease that affects millions worldwide. “More than 90 per cent of people with lupus are women; the majority is diagnosed between the ages of 15 to 44.” Akinkugbe, who is also Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Clinical Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, said women of African descent were more at risk more than the men. She added: “In lupus, the immune system, which is designed to protect against infection, creates antibodies that attack the body’s own tissues and organs like the kidneys, brain, heart, lungs, blood, skin, and joints.” Some of the symptoms she warned against are; constant malaria, fever, typhoid, rashes on faces and body, weakness, anaemia, convulsion, mouth and throat sore, chest pain, headache, loss of concentration, among others. “Global prevalence of lupus also known as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) lies between 0.02 per cent and 0.15 per cent. The incidence and prevalence is two to three times more in Africans and Asians than in Caucasians. “The epidemiology of lupus in Nigeria and Africa is largely undetermined, and the perception persists that the incidence is very low. Recent studies as well as our own experience suggest that significant numbers of Nigerian patients were presenting with SLE. University of Ibadan reports about 100,000 cases in Nigeria a year,” she added.

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