Neil Betteridge, chair of the PARE Manifesto* (People with Arthritis and Rheumatism in Europe) steering group, was speaking at the 7th Annual European Congress of Rheumatology, being held in Amsterdam from 21-24 June. He said: "More Europeans – of all ages, from young children and adults to the elderly - are affected by rheumatism than any other long-term medical condition. Whilst facilitating access to treatments and ensuring that the disease area secures research funding are key priorities for experts in the field, we must also look to work closely with organizations that share similar campaigning objectives if we are to succeed in shaping policy to better support people with rheumatic diseases."
Mr Betteridge outlined problem areas such as international travel and access to the built environment and emphasised that people with rheumatic diseases face particular barriers in their right to access essential services. Most difficult to tackle is the disparity between different countries as rules and laws differ accordingly, however this could be tackled head-on by joining forces across national boundaries.
A written declaration calling on EU decision makers to recognise the extraordinary burden of rheumatic diseases was adopted as an official resolution of the European Parliament in September 2005. However Mr Betteridge, on behalf of EULAR and its PARE Manifesto, is keen to focus also on the campaign for social justice for disabled people, which is aiming to secure a disability specific EU directive to prevent discrimination across all services.
He concluded: "We must ensure that the needs and rights of people with rheumatic and musculoskeletal conditions are not overlooked. They should be allowed to participate fully in society, without having to contend with unnecessary physical or psychological barriers. By creating powerful alliances across Europe we can succeed in this".
Notes to editors
* PARE Manifesto is the campaigning arm of the EULAR Social Leagues and represents the patient's voice in Europe. It is a pan-European project focused on improving the quality of life for the more than 100 million Europeans affected by arthritis/rheumatism. Three organisations were involved in developing the European Manifesto, a "call to action" addressing 10 major areas of concern and interest for people with rheumatic diseases, in 1999:-
The European Manifesto was officially launched at the European League Against Rheumatism Congress (EULAR) in June, 2000 at its meeting in Nice. In January 2001, the PARE Manifesto was launched at the European Parliament in Brussels.
For further information on this study, or to request an interview with the study lead, please do not hesitate to contact the EULAR congress press office on:
Jim Baxter - Onsite tel: +44 (0) 7900 605652
Jo Spadaccino - Onsite tel: +44 (0) 7773 271930
Mia Gannedahl - Office tel: +44 (0) 20 7331 2325
ABSTRACT NUMBER: SP0030
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.