Bangalore, August, 2020: While everyone in the healthcare industry is currently focused on how to cure COVID -19 or find its vaccine, instances of primary immunodeficiency diseases are currently going unchecked and under-diagnosed. The current pandemic has now more than ever made it crucial for stakeholders in the healthcare industry to invest in the understanding of Immunology as many children continue to suffer immune deficiencies and are possibly, at an increased risk of developing severe COVID illness. Keeping this in the view, Aster CMI Hospital, a leading healthcare provider in the country has launched a book, titled, “Primary Immune deficiencies Made Simple.” The book has been authored by Dr. Sagar Bhattad, Consultant – Paediatric Immunology and Rheumatology, Aster CMI Hospital to create awareness about these diseases amongst doctors and the general public at large.
Primary immunodeficiency diseases (PIDD) are a group of more than 400 rare, chronic disorders in which part of the body’s immune system is missing or functions improperly. In these diseases, children are born with a problem/deficiency in the white cells. White blood cells are the fighters in our bodies. As these white cells are missing or not functioning normally, these children and adults are at risk for severe, persistent, recurrent, and unusual infections. Many of these children get hospitalized several times and some die even before getting the appropriate diagnosis.
Currently, 1 in 1000 individuals across the globe and possibly, more than 10,000 individuals in Bangalore, suffer from a problem in their immune system and are unable to fight infections in a normal way. While not contagious, these diseases are caused by hereditary or genetic defects, and, although some disorders present at birth or in early childhood, the disorders can affect anyone, regardless of age or gender. These diseases are currently found to be more prevalent among the children and many recent findings from various experts have suggested that this is only the tip of the iceberg as lack of awareness, knowledge and training on these genetic diseases among the common people as well as the medical fraternity has created a huge gap in the detection of these diseases.
With this handbook, the doctor has aimed to simplify the subject for the medical fraternity and increase the awareness of genetic diseases among the common people to further enable them to provide early diagnosis and the right treatment to children suffering from the deadly ailment. The book also throws light on the various ways and measures required to diagnose immune deficiency in patients and highlights how the understanding of family history, age-appropriate norms for immunological tests and types of blood samples that must be asked for is important for practitioners to correctly diagnose these rare diseases. Physicians can refer to this book and can make important decisions in a short span of time. The book also gives a clinical approach to the readers and discusses real-life cases to make diagnosing these conditions very easy for a practitioner even in a remote village or town.
Speaking on the launch of the book, Dr. Sagar Bhattad, Consultant – Paediatric Immunology and Rheumatology, Aster CMI Hospital and the author of the book, said – “Currently,there is minimal or no training provided on these diseases in medical schooling (MBBS, MD, DNB). Hence, doctors across the country may not be prepared to diagnose these diseases. This was the thought which prompted me to write a book on this topic and reduce the knowledge gap persisting among the practitioners with regards to the treatment of this disease. We have seen many families wherein multiple children have died before the index case gets diagnosed! In serious immune deficiencies (eg: Severe Combined Immune Deficiency), the mortality is 100% in the absence of treatment. Today, many children and adults continue to suffer, not being diagnosed with the underlying immune deficiency. They often would be visiting many physicians, gastroenterologists, and pulmonologists. Here, they would be treated for the infections (lung/gut, etc), but the core problem remains undiagnosed. Therefore, it is time that we raise awareness and provide the right knowledge on PIDD to the medical fraternity and to the people of the country so that they don’t remain unchecked and gain maximum recovery rate.”
Over the last 2-3 years,Department of Pediatric Immunology at Aster CMI hospital has been regularly conducting CME and workshops to train the doctors on these diseases. We have conducted more than 30 such CMEs and trained over 1500 doctors across South India. We also provided free immunoglobulin infusions for a year for some of our patients under Aster@30 initiative. The government is also involved actively and is providing free immunoglobulin infusions to many of our PID patients. We are constantly working to create greater awareness for this underlying condition.” he further added.
Lack of time is a major challenge that most practitioners, physicians and medical students face and due to which they are unable to read and cope up with voluminous books published by foreign authors and remain unaware of such rare diseases. Therefore, this 170 paged-book gives a concise read on immunology, providing the right amount of information on these diseases in a crisp and simple manner. Busy pediatricians and medical students who may find it challenging to read lengthy texts on Immunology can make use of this book and can use it as a ready reckoner.
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