JointHealth™ express   April 18, 2008

Yesterday, Scott Fraser—MLA for Alberni-Qualicum—made a powerful statement in the BC legislature about arthritis. Full text of that statement is below; we are hoping to have video of Mr. Fraser's statement available on our website at some point next week.

Scott Fraser: One in six Canadians lives with some form of arthritis. There are more than 100 types of arthritis, and they are broken into two main groups: osteoarthritis and inflammatory arthritis. Arthritis affects people of all ages and has a serious impact on the quality of life. Inexpensive disease-arresting medications are available, but early diagnosis and treatment for rheumatoid arthritis is key to minimizing long-term disability and premature death.

Here are some of the challenges that we face. Fewer than 270 rheumatologists are actively practising in Canada today. Many people who live with inflammatory arthritis are treated by general practitioners and internists. Some of these have been able to stay current with arthritis techniques, but the fact is that GPs receive only 17 hours of training on musculoskeletal diseases during the entirety of their medical training.

British Columbians living in rural communities often fare worse in terms of accessing timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Aboriginal peoples are five times more likely to contract rheumatoid arthritis than non-aboriginal Canadians, and it is often more debilitating and more life threatening. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability for people over the age of 15, honourable speaker. All these statistics are stark and highlight the seriousness of the condition and the costs to individuals and, certainly, to society in British Columbia and in Canada.

Here is what we need to do. British Columbians must be made aware of arthritis. We need education. All relevant health professionals must be able to perform standardized age-appropriate screening assessment. They need education. Every British Columbian must have timely and equal access to appropriate treatments and medication. We as legislators definitely have a role to play in ensuring that all of this happens.

Arthritis Consumer Experts has written to Mr. Fraser to thank him for standing up for people who live with arthritis. For too long, arthritis has been a disease ignored or misunderstood by the public and by many elected representatives. Mr. Fraser deserves our gratitude for speaking out on behalf of our community. If you would like to thank him, here is his email address: .