MP gives support to rheumatoid arthritis sufferers

October 10, 2007 12:00 AM

Rochdale MP Paul Rowen has backed efforts to raise awareness of rheumatoid arthritis at a drop-in event at the House of Commons on Wednesday 10 October, ahead of World Arthritis Day this Friday (12 October).

This year's theme for World Arthritis Day is 'the small things which matter'. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic and disabling autoimmune disease which affects around 387,000 people of all ages in England and Wales. There are almost 12,000 new cases every year, and approximately 12,000 children under the age of 16 have the juvenile form of the disease. Those living with the condition experience a lot of pain which can contribute to feelings of isolation, stress and depression. People with rheumatoid arthritis often struggle to do everyday tasks like getting around the home, travelling, shopping and looking after children - activities which most people take for granted.

Speaking at an event organised by the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, Paul Rowen MP said: "Everybody knows somebody who suffers from arthritis. I know hundreds of people in Rochdale who suffer from this challenging illness. For Rochdale residents with arthritis, many things we take for granted are a nightmare. Over half a million people in people in the UK suffer with this disease, including hundreds in Rochdale. That is why it is important that we use the opportunity of World Arthritis Day to gain a better understanding of the challenges faced by sufferers.

"Having met with patients, charities and clinicians, I am more convinced than ever that we must take action to help people with rheumatoid arthritis. We can start by raising awareness of this debilitating condition, promoting greater understanding amongst all healthcare professionals and the public about signs and symptoms, as well as the steps which can be taken to enable those with RA to enjoy a better quality of life. I will be meeting with Councillor Pauline Maguire, the Council's Portfolio Holder for Older People to discuss how this Council can make life easier and remove some of the obstacles that people with arthritis suffer."

Ailsa Bosworth, Chief Executive of the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, said: "I am absolutely delighted that Paul Rowen MP has backed efforts to raise awareness of rheumatoid arthritis. With the support of parliamentarians like Paul, we can deliver a step change in society's awareness of rheumatoid arthritis and move further towards our vision of equity of access to excellent care for all those living with the condition."