Representatives from the Lupus Foundation of America (LFA), along with 22 national organizations, attended the first consortium meeting aimed at developing a national health care provider education initiative to improve lupus diagnosis, treatment, and management among minorities. The meeting, held at the American College of Rheumatology offices in Atlanta, Georgia from January 12–14, 2010, was facilitated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health (OWH), and Office of Minority Health (OMH).
According to an LFA survey, a person waits on average three years and visits four doctors before receiving an accurate diagnosis of lupus. More than 90 percent of people with lupus are women, and it is two to three times more common among African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans, and Native Americans. Physician and health care provider education is critical to improving the early diagnosis and management of lupus, and ultimately preventing the life-threatening consequences of the disease, particularly among those most at-risk for the disease.
An estimated $1.6 million is available for the initiative entitled, “Eliminating Disparities in Lupus Through Education and Training for Health Professionals” (EDLET/HP), which ultimately seeks to expand and promote the utilization of more comprehensive lupus curricula in medical and nursing schools, and among health care professionals and professional associations.
It is estimated that 80 percent of Americans know little or nothing about lupus. For far too long there have been limited resources to address the patient, public, and professional education gaps in lupus. In part, the first-ever Ad Council public awareness campaign on lupus sponsored by the OWH launched last year began to address the long-standing need to raise awareness and close the gap. The LFA is the Founding Partner on the campaign, “Could I Have Lupus?” which is directed at those most at-risk for developing the disease, and urges individuals who may be experiencing symptoms to ask their doctor about lupus. The EDLET/HP initiative is the health care professional counterpart to the Ad Council campaign.
“The LFA commends the Office of Minority Health and Office on Women’s Health for the foresight in developing these initiatives,” said Sandra C. Raymond, LFA President and CEO. “We also want to thank lupus advocates across the United States for bringing to Congressional attention the urgent need for comprehensive patient, public, and professional education programs on lupus.”
This year, the LFA will be hosting its seventh annual Advocacy Day program in Washington, DC from March 15-16, 2010. It is an opportunity for individuals to educate Members of Congress about lupus, and encourage them to support more funding for lupus research and education programs. To learn more Advocacy Day or to register, visit www.lupus.org/advocacyday.