Paediatric Rheumatic diseases underreported in Nigeria – Expert

"We still have a lot to do when it comes to data.”
Dr Ayodele Faleye
Dr Ayodele Faleyechannels TV

Nigeria’s first pediatric rheumatologist and consultant pediatrician, Dr Ayodele Faleye, in an interview with journalists on Sunday, disclosed that there is an underreporting of Paediatric Rheumatic Diseases (PRDs) in Nigeria, which she said could be attributed to the lack of data about the disease in the country.

According to a study released in the MDPI journal, pediatric rheumatic diseases (PRDs) are chronic conditions that originate in childhood and involve recurring episodes of symptoms worsening and improving, leading to constraints in family, school, and social interactions.

PRDs are musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders that are autoimmune and lifelong in children under 18 years old.

Faleye pointed out that Nigeria lacks data, however, it has been reported in a tertiary center in Lagos, specifically Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, that 57 cases were observed over a period of five years, followed by additional case reports from other centers in Nigeria.

Throughout her two years of practice in Lagos state, from 2022, she noticed over 100 cases of rheumatic diseases due to the specialist's presence, leading to a higher index of suspicion within the hospital compared to previous years.

She mentioned that in the United States, a study indicated the diagnosis of 294,000 children with PRDs each year between 2001 and 2004. However, she clarified that she can only speak for Lagos state, not Nigeria.

Faleye highlighted the absence of paediatric rheumatology in the medical school curriculum, forcing health workers to identify children with PRDs during practice.

She said, “There is underdiagnosis and underrecognition of these diseases not only in society alone but even among health workers.

She pointed out that paediatric rheumatology is not included in the medical school curriculum, which explains why we were not taught about it in medical school. However, in practice, we encounter PRDs here in Nigeria, leading to an increase in the number of cases seen in the clinic and ward.

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