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World Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Day 2017

Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, January 2017 – The Middle East Arthritis Foundation will host its first Rheumatoid Arthritis awareness event for patients and their families on 4th February, to mark World Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Day.

The annual event is observed on 2nd February, and is dedicated to raise awareness and promote education about the progressive inflammatory disease, causing damage to joint and organ tissues, resulting in severe pain.

Headed up by two specialist rheumatologists, Dr. Ghita Harifi and Dr. Ghalib Al Ani, the event will cover the different types of rheumatic diseases and its effects. They will also discuss the importance of early diagnosis and its impact on the disease outcome, and how those affected by it can continue to enjoy a better quality of life.

Dr. Harifi says that there is still much about the disease that is unknown, which is why an event of this nature is imperative. “The precise cause of Rheumatoid Arthritis is not yet known, but anyone, at any age, can get it and it may even occur in childhood,” she adds.

According to Dr. Ghalib, Rheumatoid Arthritis is a disease characterised by pain and swelling in and around joints, and stiffness in the joints and muscles which is much more apparent in the morning. “It is a systematic disease, meaning it can affect the whole body, even the lungs, skin, blood vessels, nerves and eyes,” he explains.

Statistics from the Global Arthritis Foundation show that more than 50 million people around the world have some form of doctor-diagnosed arthritis – equating to one in five people over the age of 18. More than 20% of the UAE population suffers from some kind of joint problem, with Rheumatoid Arthritis being the most common form of inflammatory arthritis.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is most common in people between the ages of 30 and 50.  Women are three times more likely to be affected by the disease than men.

Launch of Ankylosing Spondylitis Support Group

The Middle East Arthritis Foundation will launch its first support group for those suffering from Ankylosing Spondylitis in the UAE. Scheduled to take place on Saturday, 17th December in Dubai at the JW Marriott, Marquis, Business Bay, the meeting aims to help affected patients and their families to cope with the disease, and to create awareness to aid early diagnosis.

Headed up by Specialist Rheumatologist, Dr. Ghita Harifi, the group will provide a platform for support, medical advice and treatments, and education of various elements associated with Ankylosing Spondylitis. The disease is the most common form of Spondyloarthropathy – an umbrella term for inflammatory diseases that involve mainly the spine. It often has some particularities that make it difficult to diagnose, making it trickier to manage effectively.

Following the first support group meeting, regular group sessions that involve physiotherapy and exercises specific for Spondyloarthropathy will be held. Dr. Harifi adds, “The importance of exercise for the management of the disease cannot be overemphasized. Movement can help relieve pain and stiffness unless you are in the midst of a flare. Studies have shown that supervised and group exercise are more effective than exercising at home.”

Event Details:

Date: Saturday, 17th December 2016
Time: 10am – 12pm
Venue: JW Marriott Marquis, Sheikh Zayed Road, Business Bay
Cost: Free of charge
How to register: Call 056 364 3215 or contact Middle East Arthritis Foundation via direct message on Facebook


Dr. Harifi is actively involved in research and education and has published several articles in influential peer-reviewed journals. She’s been practicing rheumatology in Dubai since 2012. Prior to joining Dr. Humeira Badsha Medical Center, she worked at Dubai Hospital, where she set up and ran a musculoskeletal ultrasound clinic in addition to the general rheumatology clinics and the early arthritis clinics.

Dr. Harifi is a leader in musculoskeletal ultrasound in the UAE; she brings a wealth of experience to our medical center.

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