WHO: Stop neglecting autoimmune disease sufferers now!

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Take a look at PAHO (Pan American Health Organization) - the regional office of the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Part of their mission is to "combat disease" 

However, they are neglecting the 100+ million people suffering from an autoimmune disease. If you go to www.paho.org and look under “programs,”  they have sections for cancer, cardiovascular diseases, mental health + 70 more diseases and health related topics. 

Yet PAHO doesn't bother to include a section for autoimmune diseases -  something 1 in 5 Americans suffer from

Need further proof of PAHO's neglectfulness of autoimmune disease sufferers? They don't include autoimmune diseases in their Plan of Action for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases 

Why does a plan to combat non-communicable diseases not include the MOST COMMON group of NCD's - autoimmune diseases? 

As someone struggling with lupus nephritis, this feels like a big slap in the face. Like all the pain this stupid disease has caused me isn't valid enough to be given even a single thought. My suffering may be invisible, but PAHO, that doesn't mean you can treat me like I am.

I demand that PAHO does 2 things 

  1. Add a section for autoimmune diseases under “programs" on paho.org 
  2. Include autoimmune diseases in the plan of action for prevention and control of non-communicable diseases in the Americas 2019- 2025

**The plan of action for prevention and control of non-communicable diseases in the Americas is based on the global action plan for prevention and control of NCDs, therefore the global action plan must also include a strategy to combat autoimmune diseases ** 

It is crucial that the governments of the United States, Canada, Mexico and Latin American countries where autoimmune diseases are the most prevalent, recognize the autoimmune epidemic that is happening right now. The number of diagnoses is increasing at a rapid rate and it's alarming. 

Currently, autoimmune diseases are under recognized and underfunded. 

Autoimmune diseases are under recognized. Despite the fact that the number of  people suffering from an autoimmune disease equals that of cancer and heart disease combined, you hardly ever hear about autoimmune diseases in the news and media.

Personally, I was diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in June 2018. I distinctly remember the day the doctor told me, I was assuring my parents (and myself) that my low hemoglobin level was simply due to a lack of iron in my diet and that the joint pain could be explained by my recent overuse of my joints. However, nothing I said could change the actual diagnosis I got: “You have lupus.”  I nodded calmly and forced myself to hold back tears wondering what I did wrong to end up in this situation. I felt so helpless. 

It is now July 2019 and by looking at me, you would never guess that I’ve been struggling with lupus. The only noticeable change to my body was that my face got chubbier - a side effect of prednisone. However, I’ve had people tell me that my chubbier face is a sign that I’m eating well! Lupus, like many other autoimmune diseases is silent - it’s an invisible epidemic.

Autoimmune diseases are underfunded. Less than 3% of the National Institute of Health ( NIH ) budget must be shared between more than 100 autoimmune diseases. For a category of diseases that is so prevalent and whose prevalency is increasing at such a rapid rate, that number is far too low. 

Since PAHO is the international agency that works cooperatively with governments to combat disease, they must include auto immune diseases in the Plan of Action to ensure that countries stop neglecting the autoimmune crisis.

In doing so, PAHO can lead and ensure countries take the appropriate measures and provide sufficient research funding to combat the autoimmune disease epidemic. 

Join the fight by adding your name to this petition and tweeting this petition to @pahowho! Thank you for helping the millions of people suffering from autoimmune diseases. Our suffering may be silent, but voices will be heard! 







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