Thu | Jul 29, 2021

Lupus Foundation seeks help

Published:Wednesday | May 26, 2021 | 12:06 AM

Thousands of Jamaicans continue to suffer the debilitating effects of lupus, known medically as systemic lupus erythematosus, a lifelong disorder of the immune system.

To this end, the Lupus Foundation of Jamaica (LFJ) is seeking volunteers and donations as it seeks to mobilise response across the island, especially at a time when it faces both increased demand for services and funding challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lupus is a disorder of the immune system. It causes the immune system to become over-reactive and produce antibodies that damage normal healthy cells and can be life-threatening. While lupus patients have an over-reactive immune system, in most cases, they are not able to effectively cope with common infections. This makes lupus patients among the high-risk groups for the contraction of COVID-19.

The LFJ continues to support the fight against lupus through its education programmes, advocacy and support to persons living with the disease.

Monday, May 10 marked the annual observation of World Lupus Day and the kick-off of the 37-year-old charity’s month-long drive to raise funds to support the fight against lupus.

The autoimmune disease, which occurs at higher rates in Afro-Caribbean populations, is estimated to affect some 6,000 Jamaicans.

The goal to raise $4 million will guarantee more services for members, discovery and support of new patients, and sustaining a variety of programmes essential to improve outcomes for persons with the disease.

The funding of the foundation’s annual budget of $9 million is greatly dependent on volunteer labour and donations in cash or kind from small and corporate donors, which subsidise membership dues and fund essential programmes, as well as sponsorships of events and programmes.