Certain days this year have been indeed UNIQUE. While some appreciate an individual’s contribution, some have been valuable in celebrating the awareness and growing knowledge of critical conditions affecting the human population head on today. The list includes World Mental Health Day, World Arthritis Day and World Sight Day.
Throughout the world millions of people are affected by arthritis. The same goes for mental health problems – issues like depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia impact people around the world. Blindness and vision impairment is considered lesser of the three evils, an evil nonetheless.
Arthritis is known to exist since the discovery of bones, the study of fossils report ankle arthritis in dinosaurs. Derived from the greek words ‘arthro’ meaning joint, and ‘itis’ meaning inflammation, it is a condition involving inflammation of the joints. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a disease by itself, rather a symptom of conditions such as : Gout, Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis, and Lupus. Many people associate this condition with the elderly and statistical evidence supports that those over 65 years in age, are primary sufferers. But one should note that almost 30% of the affected population are much younger like teenagers and children.
We do know that mental health issues are even more challenging as an individual could almost forget their identity when affected by certain conditions. According to current statistics, 1 in 4 people experience some kind of mental health issue during their lifetime and many more witness friends or family members suffering helplessly. The taboo associated with these conditions makes it even more difficult for the patients to get the required help, guidance, counseling or medication. Often termed and shunned as ‘mad people’ – they soon become victims of social injustice.
Another important day is dedicated to those who lack of vision (sensory organ). Only they can explain the horrors of living an entire life in darkness. We don’t often sympathise with elderly, assuming age to be the root cause of all health related evils. But, according to WHO, an estimated 19 million children are visually impaired. Of these, 12 million children are visually impaired due to refractive errors, a condition that could be diagnosed and corrected. 1.4 million are irreversibly blind and require visual rehabilitation interventions for psychological and personal development.
Special Days for Special People?
Our hectic schedules often distract us from viewing the bigger picture in life and thereby altering our perspective and priorities along with it! Were these days created to make the ones affected by these conditions happy? No! They are for the world to know, understand, become aware and learn more about such conditions. You don’t always have to lend a helping hand to those suffering, you could applaud their effort and also learn from their hardships and experience.
World Arthritis Day is a day to remember and raise awareness of this condition, do some research and get a clear understanding of how this conditions manifests, its growing hold over our population, recent medical breakthroughs and the possibility of prevention? Is this condition a part of your family history? Is it possible to avoid it?
The purpose of World Mental Health Day is similar, with more effort required as it seeks to break social norms, spread knowledge on condemned topics and risks exposure to eliminate the stigma attached with several psychological conditions. All this with the one true aim of encouraging sufferers to seek help and support. These people are not ‘weird’ or ‘stupid’, our ignorance has created these labels.
Created by the World Health Organization and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, World Sight Day is an annual day of awareness. It primarily focuses on blindness and vision impairment. You could wonder why would there be a special need for this! Did you know, 285 million people are approximately visually impaired : 39 million are blind and 246 million have low vision. Also, note that 80% of such cases can be prevented or cured with correct diagnosis.
Is there Hope?
For certain conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, there is no cure, though there are treatments that can help reduce the severity of the symptoms. The same goes for a large number of neurological disorders and blindness. When it comes to a plethora of such cases one must believe in the saying below –
‘Prevention is better than Cure’
The medical field and its hard working professions have little to offer after the onset of such conditions. However, the time before onset or knowledge of risk to such health issues could certainly help research alternative therapies.
Genetic Sequencing has provided access to certain markers for rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, neurological conditions and several vision related disorders (Retinitis Pigmentosa for example). Affected individuals and their families can find out their genetic predisposition and further prepare their future generations. Regular screening and monitoring, change in diet and exercise, more knowledge on disease mechanism could potentially delay the onset of the condition. There is ample scientific research to support and validate such efforts, our very own products are testimony to it!
Mapmygenome’s Genomepatri is a wholesome package which includes bone mineral density, Osteoarthritis, vitamin D deficiency, psychological and personality-related disorders (Depression, ALS, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Bipolar disorder, Schizophrenia, substance use and addiction habits), glaucoma, AMD (Age Related Macular Degeneration), vitamin A deficiency to name a few of the 100+ conditions covered.
If 100 is too small a number for you, our tests also include –
We are creating awareness by offering information and genetic counseling sessions on any of the conditions related to Ophthalmological, Orthopedic and Neurological issues. A wide range of tests (diagnostic) are available to address any concerns.
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Learn a bit – knowledge, like our genes is key to our survival!
Change is inevitable – let us be prepared for it!
About the Author
Dr. Pallavi Jain is part of the Scientific Team at Mapmygenome. She has a Bachelors Degree in Biochemistry with Genetics and a PhD in Molecular Medicine (UK). She recently completed an intensive course in IVF from Origio, Mumbai. She enjoys swimming and reading.