Did you know that children get arthritis? Juvenile arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis in adults, is an autoimmune disease that affects between 1 and 4 per thousand children. The condition is managed by suppressing the affected child's immune system - a process that can take a long time to get right.
Children who are diagnosed early and treated appropriately often do very well. This is not to say the disease doesn't impact their lives, but relative to untreated arthritis, these children avoid the worst complications and many will experience a remission from symptoms. The treatments suppress the worst symptoms but living with a chronic illness can still be exhausting, frustrating, and disempowering. Many children feel isolated and anxiety and rates of depression tend to be high.
Children who are not diagnosed are at a high risk of preventable physical disabilities, growth issues, bone deformities, and in some cases, blindness, and even death. These children live in unimaginable pain as they slowly lose the use of their joints. In South Africa, the majority of children with arthritis are undiagnosed.
Arthritis Kids South Africa has a clear purpose: find the 1 in 1000 child, facilitate diagnosis and access to doctors where necessary, advocate for treatments and therapies where these are denied, and support the child and their family in their communities in whatever way they need it.