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530,000 NZers join world to raise awareness, fight for cure

Media Release

12 October 2013

530,000 New Zealanders join others around the world to raise awareness and fight for a cure

“World Arthritis Day, which is celebrated every year on 12 October, provides an opportunity for those with arthritis to have their voices heard, and the opportunity to highlight some of the issues they face.

Arthritis New Zealand Chief Executive Sandra Kirby asks New Zealanders to show their support for them and the 1,000 children who are living with arthritis on World Arthritis Day, which is this Saturday.

“One of the biggest issues facing people living with arthritis is awareness of the impact of this chronic health condition. Arthritis is not treated as a health priority. And people may be told ‘it’s just arthritis’, even though arthritis is the leading cause of disability in our country, and there are 17,940 people receiving sickness or invalids benefits as a result of musculo-skeletal conditions, the bulk of which will be arthritis.”

Lewis Bird (47) was first diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS when he was eleven. AS is a form of arthritis that mainly affects the spine. Symptoms usually develop between the ages of 15 and 35. Lewis had both hips replaced when he was 30, and currently takes a cocktail of heavy duty drugs. AS resulted in him leaving work and he’s one of more than 17,,000 New Zealanders living on a benefit. It has slowed him down but not stopped him! Lewis doesn’t sweat the small stuff and tries to stay mentally tough.

Research shows that the economic cost of arthritis to NZ is $3.2billion dollars a year.

“So this Saturday, please remember those people who are living with arthritis. And remember that one day you could be one of them,” Ms Kirby concluded.

About Arthritis New Zealand

Arthritis New Zealand is a national organisation whose mission is to improve the health and wellbeing of people who are affected by arthritis. There are about 530,000 New Zealanders living with arthritis, which means it is almost certain that someone close to you is affected.

The most common forms of arthritis in New Zealand are osteoarthritis, gout and rheumatoid arthritis. And although arthritis is often thought of as being an older person’s condition, it can affect anyone, at any age, and at any time, and there are 1,000 children living with arthritis in New Zealand.

Unfortunately, arthritis is still trivialised. People are still told ‘it’s only arthritis’ by others who are unaware how painful and debilitating this condition can be. And it is still not common knowledge that arthritis is the leading cause of disability in our country, or that there are 17,940 people receiving sickness or invalids benefits as a result of musculo-skeletal conditions, the bulk of which will be arthritis.

Arthritis New Zealand is the leader in the provision of awareness, education, services and advocacy for arthritis in New Zealand. But only 12% of its funding comes from government agencies. Without the generosity of our donors and volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to help those who live with the pain of arthritis every day.

Arthritis, it could surprise you.


© Scoop Media

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