Pakistan facing acute shortage of rheumatologists

KARACHI:Pakistan Society for Rheumatology (PSR) is organizing its 23rd Annual International Conference from 14 to 17 March, 2019 at local hotel where President Dr Arif Alvi is expected to inaugurate it as chief guest.

This was announced by Consultant Rheumatologist Dr Syed Mahfooz Alam while addressing a news conference at Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Tuesday. Prof Dr Shakil Baig, Dr Amir Riaz and Dr Uzma Erum were also present.

Dr Syed Mahfooz Alam, who is also Convener of the PSR-19 Conference, said Pakistan is facing an acute shortage of trained and qualified rheumatologists, medical practitioners who are specialized in treating diseases of joints, muscles, bones, ligaments and tendons. He said that in a country where 15 to 20 per cent population is suffering from rheumatic diseases, there are only 60 rheumatologists who are practicing in the major cities of the country at some tertiary-care hospitals.

He said only one public hospital in Karachi i.e. Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center (JPMC) Karachi has just started a rheumatology department while a couple of private hospitals offer treatment for rheumatologic diseases where only rich people can afford treatment.

Giving details of the upcoming 23rd Annual International Conference, Dr Mahfooz said they have been striving for the creating awareness about rheumatic diseases and disorders for last 22 years and in this regard, they annually hold these rheumatology conferences to make people aware of these disorders and disease.

He said annual conference provide a great platform to both national and international rheumatologists to discuss and share rheumatic diseases, their causes, prevention, treatment and advancements in their cure with local people.

He said woman in Pakistan were more prone to rheumatological diseases for being over-weight, living a sedentary lifestyle and having unhealthy and unbalanced diet.

He explained that that rheumatology is the medical especiality which deals with diseases of joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons and added that only very few people manage to approach trained and qualified rheumatologists for the treatment of their diseases. “Majority of people, especially poor people visit quacks, Hakeems and specialized practitioners, who give them medicines and supplements which result in progression of their diseases”, he deplored.

The experts and researchers from different countries of the Europe including United Kingdom, Norway, and other countries, as well as, from Middle and Norway had confirmed their participation in the conference, which was big achievement in promotion of rheumatology in Pakistan.

Consultant Rheumatologist Prof Shakil Baig said only three public hospitals in Punjab and one in Karachi had rheumatology departments while a few private hospitals are offering rheumatology treatment services, which is not enough for a country of over 220million population.