News & Current Affairs |




Is there hope for four million Australians, with the disease no-one talks about?

Sydney, 9 October 2015 Arthritis affects 3.85 million Australians. It costs the economy $24 billion each year. It is painful, debilitating and can lead to permanent disability.

Yet arthritis receives little media coverage and even less dollars. Despite annual growth in sufferers, government funding is shrinking. Treatment is often limited to surgery and prescription medicine, although research shows more holistic approaches considerably reduce symptoms.

Arthritis is not a disease limited to ‘old people’. Over half the people with arthritis – almost two million – are of working age. The cost to the community is huge, estimated at $24 billion a year, and it’s one of the most common causes of work absenteeism.

Despite arthritis being a National Health Priority Area, and the huge, rising cost to the community, arthritis funding has declined. The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) reports funding was at its highest between 2008 and 2010 with over $26 million and has dropped to $21 million and $23 million respectively in 2013/2014. While funding to most other National Health Priority Areas has increased, arthritis has seen the highest decline.

There is little awareness about how bad the situation is and very little support for arthritis sufferers on how to manage their condition. An ageing and increasingly overweight population only exacerbates the problem.

Strong scientific evidence links alleviation of symptoms with healthy diets - rich in anti-inflammatory foods - and regular basic exercise. Despite ever-growing evidence, most patients and GP’s rely on prescription drugs and surgery to treat the condition. Our recent survey shows sufferers are looking for alternatives.

Sandra Witzel (43) is a qualified health coach and was diagnosed with arthritis over a decade ago. She had multiple joint replacements in her early forties. Frustrated with a lack of awareness and support, she started a healthcare program to show others how to cook with anti-inflammatory foods and to educate them on exercise, lifestyle and supplementation.

“When I was first diagnosed with arthritis over ten years ago, doctors told me diet and supplements did not matter. They also believed exercise would make things worse. This attitude is slowly changing, with new scientific evidence supporting the importance of diet, exercise and anti-inflammatory supplements. Despite this, little knowledge exists in the medical and wider community on the simple lifestyle changes which alleviate suffering.”

Now Sandra acts as a spokesperson for people with arthritis and is a passionate advocate of lifestyle-based treatment to complement and work alongside traditional approaches.

About Wellvess

Wellvess offers online programs for people with arthritis, designed by a team of health and medical experts, to help take control of the arthritis crisis. The programs bring together, for the first time, a variety of easy-to-follow, evidence-based lifestyle changes that can benefit sufferers. In July 2015, Wellvess conducted a survey amongst Australians with arthritis, which further highlighted the need for change.

World Arthritis Day website:

More arthritis facts & figures on request.

Contact Details

Sandra Witzel

Founder & Director, Head of Programs, Health Coach

0410 330 284

Rob Grant

Director, Head of Marketing

0422 932 633