Philip Dunne MP this week hosted an event in Parliament for people living with autoimmune conditions to raise awareness and call for research to be better coordinated and supported.
Brought together by Connect Immune Research, a collaboration between the type 1 diabetes charity JDRF, MS Society and Versus Arthritis, supported by the British Society for Immunology, the event highlighted the need for greater recognition for autoimmune conditions as a distinct medical research area, alongside the likes of cancer, infectious disease and dementia.
Chloe Gillum, 25, a paediatric nurse from Knighton who is living with type 1 diabetes, vitiligo and an underactive thyroid, spoke openly to parliamentarians about a typical day in her life and the challenges and lack of understanding she faces as a result of these multiple autoimmune conditions.
Mr Dunne said: “I was very pleased to be able to host this event in Parliament, to raise awareness of autoimmune conditions and support further research.
This is such a crucial issue for so many people across the UK - one in every 16 people live with an autoimmune condition, which can cause pain, difficulty as well as lost opportunities in work and in life.
I was particularly pleased to welcome Chloe Gillum from Knighton and Karen Addington, CEO of JDRF, who was taught at Ludlow College – showing that our area is beating the drum loudly in the effort to treat autoimmune conditions better.”
A report from Connect Immune Research launched at the event revealed that many autoimmune conditions are on the rise, costing the UK over £13 billion each year.
There are more than 80 autoimmune conditions known to science and some conditions are increasing in incidence by as much as 9% each year. Yet the rise of these conditions and their interdependencies goes largely underreported.
Medical science does not yet know the reasons behind the rise, and this report showed how charities are campaigning together for change in the way research is better coordinated.
Having one autoimmune condition makes developing another more likely. Up to a third of the four million people affected live with more than one autoimmune condition.
Photos: Philip Dunne MP with Chloe Gillum and Karen Addington
Philip Dunne MP speaking at Connect Auto Immune event in Parliament