BENGALURU: Even though more and more number of cases of arthritis are being reported, only a small section of the population is able to afford treatment. Lack of insurance cover and the disorder not recognised under the BPL scheme is forcing many people to discontinue treatment. Doctors who are part of the Indian Rheumatology Association have submitted a memorandum to the state and Union governments to recognise arthritis in health schemes.
More than a hundred doctors and patients took out a walkathon in the city on Sunday to create awareness on the issue. Speaking to Express, Dr Chandrashekara S, Consultant Rheumatologist and Immunologist at Rheumatology and Immunology Centre, said, “A lot of new drugs have come. Since they are new in the market, the prices are high and it will take time for it to stabilise. Many patients cannot afford the treatment, as it would cost `20,000- `30,000 per month and they would have to take up the treatment at least for six months at a stretch.”
In Bengaluru itself, there are more than one lakh people suffering from arthritis.
In its appeal to the government, the association has stated that ‘arthritis and rheumatic diseases’, are broadly classified under ‘chronic illness’. Hence, these diseases were excluded from reimbursement benefits. The association has appealed to the government to reclassify and consider arthritis as a disease which merits insurance claims so that it would reduce the socio-economic burden of patients.
The association also made an attempt to throw light on another aspect of rheumatology. While it is believed that only the aged are affected by it, the disease is affecting a lot of youngsters these days. “Everyone is affected by it. We wanted to create awareness among people, so that they would recognise the problem in early stages and get it treated,” the doctor added.