International Celiac Disease Awareness Day (supporting the difficulties faced by people suffering from this auto-immune disease) was recently observed worldwide. Leading health professionals, patients, their families, and hundreds of guests who have a particular interest in the condition came together on September 22, 2022, to address the key issues at the furst such symposium to be held at Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa, Israel.
Celiac disease is an immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. According to data gathered by the Israel Celiac Rights Organization (AR), one out of every ten children suffers from a sensitivity to gluten. Many parents do not recognize the signs of gluten sensitivity and it can take some time before an accurate diagnosis is made.
Professor Ron Shaul, the director of the Pediatric Gastroenterology Institute of Rambam’s Ruth Rappaport Children's Hospital, Solafa Khamaisi, the head nurse of the Pediatric Gastroenterology Institute, and Dan Solomon, CEO of the Israel Celiac Rights Organization (AR) collaborated in the planning and inauguration of Rambam’s first symposium devoted to celiac disease.
At the symposium, hundreds of pre-registered visitors (parents of affected children, young people, and adults) from all over the country were exposed to an exciting program exploring diverse aspects of the disease. Professor Shaul spoke on the topic: "Not by Bread Alone," which looked at how the disease is managed in 2022, after which Ms. Michal Rosenberg, a pediatric dietician at Rambam, gave a lecture on "Myths about a Gluten-free Diet." Participants heard from Ella Harel, a preeminent rehabilitation psychologist in Rambam's Pediatric Gastroenterology Institute, on the topic, "The Psychological Aspects of Celiac Disease", while Dan Salomon clarified how diagnosed patients could exercise their rights as citizens of the State of Israel.
The Israel Celiac Rights Organization (AR) is an NGO run primarily by volunteers. Established in 2014 by Solomon, the organization advocates for celiac patients and their families and works for their well-being. Their aim is to advance legislation supporting economic, statutory, and systemic changes for celiac sufferers. Celiac patients bear the financial consequences of the diagnosis since the price differences of gluten-free foods are 300%-500% higher than those of regular products. The organization works to lower prices by advancing the subsidization of gluten-free foods and opening the Israeli market to imports of such products. They also help manufacturers in Israel adapt their food product line to this population segment and offer direct economic support to celiac sufferers.