60pc of schizophrenics ‘normal’ on medication
Dubai, May 5, 2010
Up to 60 per cent of schizophrenia patients in the UAE were able to return to their normal lives with the elimination of the symptoms, though not fully cured, experts said.
More than 100 psychiatrists from the UAE and the Gulf region gathered recently at a two-day regional medical symposium on schizophrenia, led by the Professor René Kahn, an internationally acclaimed scientist and hosted by AstraZeneca, a leading biopharmaceutical company, in Dubai.
The symposium highlighted the urgent need for doctors to focus on treating the person as a whole when handling schizophrenia cases through a four fold treatment that works on the patient’s social, physical, mental and psychological aspects.
The symposium also emphasized the importance of employers and psychiatric groups to work together to eliminate victimisation of schizophrenia patients at workplace and ensure that their jobs are secure, under supervision.
“Just about less than half percent of the UAE adult population is schizophrenic,” said Dr Alaa Haweel, consultant and psychiatrist, Sheikh Khalifa Medical City.
“Schizophrenic people often lose their jobs as the disease can affect the productivity of the patient, not to mention his social and thinking skills. In the UAE, many of these patients are working as the government policy encourages the private and public sectors to be considerate to these cases.”
“About 20 per cent of cases in the UAE belong to the paranoid schizophrenia category, and they need not lose their jobs as they could maintain their balance at work, provided we work with a timeline and systematic approach,” continued Dr Haweel.
“Schizophrenia-affected persons flourish where the employees are considerate. We have a committee which looks into the job fitness of every patient. We liaise with his boss and colleagues and advise them how to best communicate with the patient to get best results of the treatment. Also we advise on the working environment ideal to his health and how to let him maintain his job,” he added.
Dr Haweel said that the stigma of schizophrenia in the UAE is rapidly decreasing and the families are caring, so that people with this disease carry on with their normal lives and raise families which are supervised by the “extended family” of their parents at most cases.
The conference discussed the effectiveness of Quetiapine Extended Release, approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) of the US, for the treatment of schizophrenia.
Quetiapine Extended Release from AstraZeneca enhances compliance of Schizophrenic patients as the once daily dosage makes it easier on the patient to comply with the treatment and thereby preventing relapses, a statement said.
Full cure of the disease is not achievable; however, total elimination of the symptoms is possible. It requires a few weeks of treatment to control aggressive symptoms and reach stability to prevent relapse, the statement added.
“One per cent of the people in the UAE are prone to Schizophrenia due to genetic factors,” said Dr Issam Emam, head of psychiatric division, Tawam Hospital.
Dr Emam added that early detection helps in more effective treatment with most of patients getting fully integrated in society, thanks to the advanced medicines, and added that the UAE had made remarkable strides in this area since 2005.
René Kahn, associated scientist of Julius Clinical Research, who led the discussion, threw light on the status of schizophrenia in the world and the importance of early effective treatment.
Dr Emam pointed out that 60 per cent of the schizophrenia patients followed the treatment and were able to lead normal lives, while 40 per cent did not comply with it due to ignorance which leads to relapses.
Also, families sometimes hold a responsibility in not getting their children to continue the treatment set by doctors.
Dr Tamer Fadel of AstraZeneca Gulf said: “The more the patients are on drug compliance, the better results we get.”
“Stigma is a real barrier to cure people who have a mental illness and the society has to realize that being schizophrenic doesn’t mean someone is violent or dangerous as this leads to patients hiding their illness or illness denial and treatment refusal,” he concluded. – TradeArabia News Service
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