The Rheumatology Initiative (tRi), Ghana, a medical advocacy and non-governmental organization, has launched two projects to create awareness about autoimmune rheumatic conditions and care in Ghana.
The projects dubbed; Heralding Education in Autoimmune Rheumatic Disorders (HEARD) Campaign and “RheumChat” seek to make treatment for such conditions easily accessible, convenient, and fast for all.
Dr Dzifa Dey, Director of tRi and a consultant rheumatologist at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) who launched the projects in Accra said the “RheumChat” project is a toll-free telemedicine short code service (*844*555*3#).
“This project is expected to help screen persons suffering from autoimmune rheumatic conditions in all parts of the country and improve access to care by directing them to the nearest partner health center,” she said.
The HEARD campaign is also aimed at increasing awareness about Autoimmune Rheumatic Disorders in Ghana through the use of simple animation videos and communication materials in English, French, and selected local languages such as Twi, Ga, Ewe, and Dagbani.
Dr Dey explained that generally, “there is a lack of rheumatologists worldwide. Ghana has only three rheumatologists for a population of 30 million”.
She said there was a lack of awareness and care for Autoimmune Rheumatic Disorders due to inadequate dedicated clinics, lack of manpower to provide basic care, poor knowledge and disease recognition among medical personnel, and the unavailability of diagnostic facilities and essential drugs to help manage patients.
The Rheumatology Initiative, tRi Ghana is a non-profit organisation dedicated to providing education, advocacy, and research into the autoimmune rheumatic conditions in Ghana and Africa.
The NGO aims to find a cure for the causes and cure for autoimmune rheumatic conditions and provide support, services to persons affected with those conditions and their dependents, with a special focus on adolescents.
Autoimmune disease is a condition in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the body due to its inability to differentiate between good and bad cells.
These attacks can be on specific organs or across multiple organs like the skin, joints, muscles, blood, the heart, nerves, lungs, kidneys, and brain.
Examples of autoimmune diseases that result from the attack of a single organ are Type 1 Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis, and Thyroid disorders.
More systemic cases where attacks are across several organs in the body are Rheumatoid Arthritis, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, and Myositis.