Professor & Founder of the Department
Clinical Immunology & Rheumatology
Christian Medical College & Hospital, Vellore, India
Past Editor in Chief, International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases
Past President, Indian Rheumatology Association
President-Elect, Ex-Vice President and Treasurer, Asia Pacific League of Associations for Rheumatologists (APLAR)
As Science marches on, the deceptive faces of the Lupus spectrum of disorders are unraveling. The wolf is slowly hiding, and the wings of the butterflies are being clipped.
The kaleidoscope of manifestations of lupus had befooled physicians and patients for long, so much so to earn it the synonym ‘the great mimic’. Protean and multisystem involvement in lupus is still a great teacher to physicians. Before the second world war, there was a saying “If you know syphilis, you know Medicine”. However, antibiotics made syphilis a rare disease. EventuallyLupus, Diabetes, and HIV earned that reputation. LUPUS continues to be a great teacher for every physician and every rheumatologist and I dare to say that ‘IF WE DO NOT KNOW LUPUS, WE NEITHER KNOW RHEUMATOLOGY NOR MEDICINE’.
But the wolf is on the run now; newer therapies are winning over renal, neuropsychiatric, cardiovascular, infective, and all major complications. Survival and life expectancy in severe lupus has gone up by over four decades now, so has the quality of life. Recent strategies are aiming towards lesser to no steroids, thereby reducing the complications too. A better understanding of pathogenesis (like interferon gene-related defects), early diagnosis, immunosuppressants like MMF, judicious repurposing of antimalarials, biologics like Belumimab, and Rituximab, as well as generic brands cutting costs, have made a quantum jump in the outcome of lupus. More good news is coming in.
Lupus patients are mostly young women with all their dreams related to education, job, economic freedom, personal, family, and social life. They are not just ANA, Kidneys or butterfly rashes; they are full humans with mind and heart full of aspirations seeking dignity apart from physical fitness.
They and their families need support, protection from mis-propaganda, and misinformation that is widespread in mushrooming proportions. The Internet often acts as a vehicle for pseudoscience invading their minds.
If our potentially treatable patients are to benefit from science, the social arm of Medicine is crucial.
Who will do it to make them self-sufficient?
Lupus initiativeKolkata (LIK)is marching ahead as a pioneer in rendering a helping hand to the lupus community for over a decade now. From free check-up, patient education to highly subsidized tests, and dispensing of medicines, educational aid to nurture hidden talents, integration to mainstream society without stigma, LIK is fulfilling several of their social needs.
As Medicine is becoming patient-centric, LIK can act as a role model for our nation in Lupus advocacy. India needs more initiatives, like LIK, across the nation to empower our lupus patients.
Best wishes and congratulations to Mrs.Shubhra Ghosh and Prof.Alakendu Ghosh for spearheading this movement. You are champions for our wolf warriors. You are truly living the words of Gandhiji’s mentor late Gopal Krishna Gokhle“What Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow”