are many forms of arthritis and rheumatism that differ
in their treatment and outcome. Newer modern medicines
are highly effective and fairly safe when used correctly.
Even the patient with the worst form of chronic arthritis
can hope for effective long term relief. Yet, all
over the world, arthritics continue to suffer. Often,
this is due to poor communication with the doctor,
and some very basic misconceptions and wrong information
about the disease.
book aims to provide the initial basis for initiating
a useful dialogue with the doctor. It is not a substitute
for the doctor. Nor is it a therapeutic guide.
book is part of a ‘health education effort’
launched in village
Bhigwan (Pune District) since 1996, under the
auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO) community
program for control of rheumatic diseases (COPCORD)
in India. COPCORD, a joint venture of WHO and ILAR
(International League of Associations for Rheumatology),
is monitored in Bhigwan by APLAR (Asia-Pacific League)
and IRA (Indian Rheumatism Association). The book
contains ‘questions and queries’ collected
from over 3000 patients of arthritis evaluated in
medical camps in Pune and Bhigwan COPCORD region.
Bhigwan COPCORD population has demonstrated that the
commonest health problems, ranging from mild to severe,
belong to the musculoskeletal-rheumatic group. Numerous
arthritis and rheumatic problems exist in the Indian
population. Overall, rheumatic ailments significantly
affect people’s lives and work output. Chronic
arthritis can be deforming and disabling. Health education,
often lacking, can further improve the response to
Bill Wilcox, executive director, Arthritis Foundation
of Australia, has been an inspiration in my quest
to understand the expectations of the community from
doctors, rheumatologists in particular. Bill is an
ardent advocate of community driven health education
program and research. And this book is a beginning
in that direction.
N Khaltaev, Co-coordinator, Division of non-communicable
diseases, from WHO HQ, visited Bhigwan in March’99,
and endorsed the need for such a book. This publication
has been sponsored by WHO for free distribution to
the patients in the Bhigwan region.
humbly acknowledge the contributions of numerous colleagues.
Mr. Meherdil Irani, a young brilliant artist from
Pune, volunteered his services and drew the cartoons.
Dr. Jayshree Patil, has assisted in translation of
the book into Marathi language. Ms. Manjit Saluja
has looked after the secretarial work and the logistics.
The publishers, Mr. Nazim Shariff in particular, has
worked on this project with overwhelming sincerity
and devotion. My family has constantly inspired this
effort. Finally, I acknowledge with gratitude the
support obtained from WHO COPCORD and Dr. Khaltaev,
and my colleagues from village
Bhigwan-Pune District (Dr. H. S. Tandale in particular).
sincerely hope and pray that this book will inspire
patients to know more about their illness and despite
their arthritis help them to lead a healthy productive
ARVIND CHOPRA, M.D.
PUNE, INDIA. 1999.