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Acting Minister of Health, Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner (FP)

Over 100 persons in Barbados are affected by Myasthenia Gravis.

This was disclosed recently by Acting Minister of Health, Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner as she addressed the eighth Annual Lecture of the Myasthenia Gravis Association at the Grande Salle, Tom Adams Financial Centre.

While stating that this number might be higher given that some cases may be undiagnosed, she said: "Undiagnosed cases of Myasthenia Gravis arise from the fact that weakness is a common symptom of many other disorders. In addition, the diagnosis is often missed in people who experience mild weakness or in those individuals whose weakness is restricted to only a few muscles."

The Association was commended for its efforts and the Senator observed that its objectives included the provision of relief and comfort to persons with the illness and assisting persons through education and counselling to make decisions regarding treatment and other related issues.

Mrs. Sandiford-Garner stressed the importance of encouraging persons affected by the illness to remain active and productive members of society.?? She maintained: "When this occurs, family members and others in close contact, all of whom frequently are members of the workforce, are able to achieve a degree of comfort which allows them to maintain their productivity and continue their contribution to national development.??

"Ultimately, therefore, it is desirable to promote the psychological health of persons with chronic disease not only to protect their well-being as far as possible but also in recognition of the multiplier effect which this will have on our overall national productivity."

Myasthenia Gravis is a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease characterised by varying degrees of weakness of the skeletal or voluntary muscles of the body. With current therapies, most cases of Myasthenia Gravis can be managed; however, physical activity may be limited in some cases because of the symptoms; and some routine manoeuvres may prove to be difficult if not impossible for myasthenics. Certain muscles such as those that control eye and eyelid movement, facial expression, chewing, talking and swallowing are often, but not always affected by the disorder.?? The muscles that control breathing and limb movements may also be affected.

jgill@barbados.gov.bb

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