The First Private Teaching Hospital in South Africa, Johannesburg


What is happening at WDGMC this World Arthritis Day?

The month of October is well known as Breast cancer Awareness Month, but since 1996 the 12th of October has been observed every year as World Arthritis Day (WAD) in more than 50 countries, including South Africa.

The goals of WAD are to increase awareness about arthritis; to encourage policy-decisions that will ease the burden of arthritis; and to provide support for people with arthritis and their caregivers.

The impact of rheumatic conditions of which there are over 100 different forms is not well recognized. In America inflammatory rheumatic diseases with arthritis cause more disability than heart disease, cancer or diabetes.

In addition, these conditions contribute to other co-existing medical problems.

  • A year after a person is diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) their risk of a heart attack is 60% higher than in someone without RA
  • Patients with Psoriatic Arthritis are 50 % more likely to develop diabetes than the general public
  • Many forms of rheumatic disease as well as their treatments are associated with an increase in cancer, especially lymphoma.

Although the stereotype claims that arthritis is a disease of old age, 65% of people with arthritis are under the age of 65. One in 12 women and 1 in 20 men will develop a rheumatic disease during their lifetime. RA often develops between the ages of 35-50 and lupus between the ages of 15 -44. Women are 2-3 times more likely to develop RA and 9 out of 10 people who have lupus are women. Children (up to 1 in 250) can also present with some form of rheumatic condition – the most common being juvenile idiopathic arthritis.

However the worldwide epidemic of obesity is creating larger numbers of people with gout and osteoarthritis (OA).

In large studies of RA patients, smoking and being overweight were the most common factors associated with the risk of getting the disease.

The theme of WAD, “Move to Improve” focuses on physical activity to combat the common conditions such as OA, RA, gout, lupus and psoriatic arthritis. This slogan was created in 2010 and continues to be used because people who stay active and fit are healthier, happier and live longer and this is especially true for people with arthritis.

To mark this year’s WAD, the Johannesburg Branch of the Arthritis Foundation (which is located in Marian House, WDGMC) has arranged 2 speakers for Thursday 9th October, 2014 at 11:00 at the Wits Medical School Lecture Hall 1, 7 York Rd, Parktown.

The topics look at ageing problems of bone loss (osteoporosis) and muscle loss (sarcopaenia) and the risks of falling related to these issues:

  • Is there a rational approach to Osteoporosis?
  • Safety Begins at Home.

Contact Nadine Lemmer at 011 726 7498 or for more details regarding these talks.

Dr. Anne Stanwix, FRCP (UK) is a specialist physician trained in Rheumatology and part of the Wits Rheumatology Group that is based at 18 and 27 Eton Road, Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre.