Psoriasis is commonly described as a skin condition. However, research into psoriasis has discovered that it is a chronic and complex immune-mediated disease. The complications of psoriatic arthritis, cardiovascular disease, psychosocial disorders and other co-morbidities clearly show that damage extends beyond visible skin.
Despite recognition by the World Health Organisation as a chronic condition, getting appropriate care and treatment for people with psoriasis remains challenging. Due to inaccurate diagnosis, gaps in health services, and unmet treatment needs, patients face a lifetime of suffering and disability.
By 2017, the Malaysian Psoriasis Registry (MPR) captured an epidemiological picture of over 17,000 adults and children with psoriasis from 25 dermatology outpatient clinics, where more than one in four patients reported severe impairment of quality of life. The total number registered has now risen to more than 24,000.
It is critical that awareness and recognition of psoriasis as a serious medical condition that can significantly impact a person’s quality of life, is emphasised among healthcare professionals, particularly those at the primary care level.
Doing so will enable people with psoriasis to be diagnosed early and provided with the necessary care. Receiving quality, timely and effective treatment reduces the individual burden and wider economic impact of the disease.
However, management of this condition today is challenged by funding which falls short of ensuring access for all who are eligible for optimal treatment, particularly those deemed to be at a serious stage of their disease. People are being left behind.
With sufficient resources and investment to provide adequate access to manage psoriasis and its comorbidities, especially for patients with moderate to severe psoriasis, suffering and stigma can be reduced, and lives changed for the better.
The long-term objective for Malaysia contained within this Psoriasis White Paper should be to develop a model of patient-centered, coordinated care which ensures the delivery of comprehensive, individually adapted treatment for people with psoriasis over their lifetime.