From the desk of Jeanne Hambleton
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) adopt written declaration 69/2008 on fibromyalgia initiated by five deputies and the European Network of Fibromyalgia Associations (ENFA).
Brussels (16.12.2008) – Written Declaration 69/2008 on fibromyalgia has been a success in the European Parliament by finding the necessary quorum of signatories of 393 deputies giving their support. The Written Declaration was initiated by five key MEPs active on health at the European Parliament: Mr. Adamou, Ms. Brepoels, Ms. Dičkuté, Mr. Popa and Ms. Sinnott. These MEPs decided to launch the declaration during the celebratory meeting of the 1st European Fibromyalgia Awareness Day in May 2008, organized by ENFA
The Written Declaration is calling on the European Union to recognize fibromyalgia in Europe as a disease, as WHO did in 1992. It is estimated that 14 million people in Europe suffer from fibromyalgia and the condition is more prevalent with women (87% of total prevalence).
Fibromyalgia is a complex disease with a variety of symptoms in addition to the defining symptom – chronic widespread pain. These include fatigue, non-restorative sleep, morning stiffness, irritable bowel and bladder, restless legs, depression, anxiety and cognitive dysfunction often referred to as “fibro fog.” All of these symptoms cause serious limitations in patients’ ability to perform ordinary daily chores and work and severely affect their quality of life. Some scientists believe that there is an abnormality in how the body responds to pain, and particularly a heightened sensitivity to stimuli.
Fibromyalgia imposes large economic burdens on society as well as on affected individuals. A study shows that an average patient in Europe consults up to 7 physicians and takes multiple medications over 5-7 years before receiving the correct diagnosis. The debilitating symptoms often result in lost work days, lost income and disability payments. Research in the UK has shown that diagnosis and positive management of Fibromyalgia reduce healthcare cost by avoiding unnecessary investigations and consultations
Thus, the European Parliament is calling through this declaration, for the European Commission and the Council, to help raise awareness of the condition and facilitate access to information for health professionals and patients, by supporting European and national awareness campaigns; to encourage Member States to improve access to diagnosis and treatment; to facilitate research on fibromyalgia through the work programmes of the EU 7th Framework Programme for Research and future research programmes; and finally to facilitate the development of programmes for collecting data on fibromyalgia.
Educating healthcare professionals, patients and the public to promote better understanding and management of Fibromyalgia will benefit patients, healthcare providers and the society.
A Written Declaration is a text of up to 200 words on a matter falling within the European Union’s sphere of activities. MEPs can use them in order to launch or relaunch a debate on a subject that comes within the EU’s remit. At the end of the lapsing date (3 months after its launch on 1 September for the declaration 69/2008) the declaration is forwarded to the institutions named in the text, together with the names of the signatories.
European Network of Fibromyalgia Associations (ENFA)
Mr. Robert Boelhouwer
President of ENFA
ENFA is a network of patient association and support groups working in close consultation with the national association in the relevant country. Our joint missions are to conquer the myths and misunderstandings around Fibromyalgia. The network will help collectively push forward the boundaries which currently exist in understanding, experiencing and treatment of Fibromyalgia. Our main goal is to see fibromyalgia receiving the recognition it deserves across Europe as an illness in its own right.