Local Member Mia Davies MLA has met with Northam local and member of Lupus WA Fiona Brayshaw to discuss raising awareness about the disease and improving support for those that live with it.
Ms Davies said she learned that Lupus was a significant health issue in Australia with more than 35,000 diagnosed nationwide and 3,700 in Western Australia alone.
“Mrs Brayshaw met with me at my electorate office as a member of Lupus WA, (a volunteer based patient focussed organisation), to discuss the work the organisation does to support those diagnosed with lupus,” Ms Davies said.
“She advised me that early detection and treatment is critical for improving long-term outcomes for those living with the disease, and that building awareness and provision of support were key priorities of their organisation.
“If left undiagnosed and untreated lupus can have serious and even fatal consequences”, Ms Brayshaw said.
Despite the relatively high incidence of lupus it still remained one of Australia’s least recognised diseases, with both knowledge and understanding about lupus still sadly lacking both in the general community and even amongst many health professionals.
“I was in incredible pain day and night, there was no relief. I was then lucky enough to be diagnosed and with the right medication plus diet and lifestyle changes I can keep the pain away.”
Ms Davies said she welcomed the opportunity to learn more about lupus, and about the work Lupus WA was doing to raise awareness and support for those diagnosed with the disease.
“It can be difficult for any family to manage when a loved one is diagnosed with a serious health condition, and this can be exacerbated if you live in regional WA,” she said.
“Reducing isolation by linking into support networks, learning more about how to live with lupus and sharing your experience with those in a similar situation is important.
“I have written to the Minister for Health to seek his support in raising the profile of lupus and to explore how the Health Department may be able to collaborate with Lupus WA to help Western Australians to become Lupus Wise.”
Lupus is a chronic and complex autoimmune disease that can affect any tissue or organ “head to toe” in the body, including the kidneys, brain, heart, lungs, skin and joints.
About 90 per cent of people with lupus are women, but it can also affect men and children. International research indicates that it is the leading cause of premature cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and stroke among young women.
There are now 11 recognised criteria used worldwide to identify a possible lupus diagnosis and a full description of these criteria is available www.rheumatology.org
To help you become Lupus Wise and to access support visit Lupus WA at: www.lupuswa.com.au