Chronic Immune Disorders (CID’s) are a huge problem in public health care, even though this is hardly known by the public, in politics and by health care insurance organisations. Studies show that in the Western world 5%–10% of the population suffer from a CID (El-Gabawawy H et al., Epidemiology of immune-mediated inflammatory diseases: incidence, prevalence, natural history, and comorbidities. J Rheumatol Suppl 2010 May;85:2-10). This percentage in the US is foreseen to grow up to 50% in the coming decades (see image below).
Why is this hardly known?
These numbers are probably unknown because CID’s up to now are always seen and treated as a large number of different diseases. In the clinic patients with these diseases are treated by the specialist for the affected organ, for instance a neurologist for a MS patient. This is the opposite situation as is seen with treatment of cancer, where an oncologist (specialised in the underlying mechanism of cancer) works together with the specialist regarding the affected organ(s).
There’s a huge impact
If one looks at the different CID’s on their own, one might think that the social and personal impact of these diseases is limited, because the amount of patients seems to be modest and ‘at least they can learn to live with the disease’. However if we look all of these diseases with the same underlying mechanism (in the way we look at cancer) the numbers are astonishingly high. Furthermore, one can indeed die from a CID, for instance because CID patients have a higher risk for cardiovascular diseases. Also the treatments that are used can be very aggressive, are used for a long period of time and are often very expensive. At the same time these treatments are not always effective which leaves the patient having to cope with his or her handicap.