An appeal on condition of workers suffering from arthritis – it should not be an obstacle at work
Difficulties that workers suffering from arthritis were evident during a National Conference on Arthritis held at the Parliament building. During the conference, a mother recounted that she discovered that her daughter had arthritis at the age of two. She spoke about her daily difficulties and that her daughter spends the first hour of the day incapable of walking.
Speaking at the conference, Roderick Agius recalled that six years ago, at the age of 44, he was told he had psoriasis – a condition he suffered from since 1986 which developed into psoriatic arthritis.
“You feel pain in your hand joints, wrists, in your knee and shoulders. The pain does not stop and is a continuous discomfort which makes you almost ignore it, but on the other hand it is there”.
Mr Agius added that the discomfort created by society sometimes is greater than the physical one. “I do not want people to pity me; all I want is that society is not biased against my situation”.
He said that workers, who like himself suffer from arthritis, deserve better working conditions without being beggars. The 28 stairs at the office are an obstacle for Mr Agius, mostly in the morning when pain is mostly felt. People with a similar condition also suffer from fatigue.
It emerged during the conference that there are some 60,000 persons in Malta who suffer from arthritis and conditions associated with rheumatism. Professor Andrew Borg said that not only elderly persons suffer from arthritis; there is even a three-month old baby, he added, that is being treated for juvenile arthritis. If patients undergo early treatment they can live a normal life, however Prof Borg said that the main challenge is the high price of effective medicines.
Sina Bugeja, vice president of the Arthritis and Rheumatism Association, stated that a survey among patients resulted that there are those trying to learn how to live with pain because they cannot pay for treatment. There are 200 different conditions that affect joints and bones. Ms Bugeja added that the average expense is €200 a month.
Inaugurating the conference, House Speaker Anġlu Farrugia appealed to employers to be sensitive to the workers’ conditions because through the necessary treatment and assistance, these workers can fully contribute at the place of work.