600,000 people in Ireland suffer from chronic pain with 120,000 in the severe -very severe category, while across the EU 100 million people are similarly affected. This was stated by Independent MEP Marian Harkin speaking at the opening of the four day 9th World Congress of Pain in the Convention Centre, Dublin on Wednesday, May 9th.
The direct and indirect cost of chronic pain amounted to over €400 billion across the EU, she said. “To put that figure into context it is 2 ½ times the size of the entire EU budget”, she said.
The human and economic cost arising from this situation made action at EU level absolutely imperative and at national level an ongoing necessity, Marian Harkin suggested.
She continued “As co-chair and founder member of the Pain Interest Group in the European Parliament I am happy to welcome 1,700 delegates from over 40 countries to Dublin to share knowledge, to build alliances, to exchange best practice, to introduce new treatments and new ideas and to influence better policy making in pain diagnosis, pain care and pain management.
The EU has an important role to play because research and collaboration at EU level delivers EU added value. Our legislation on health and safety at work can act as a preventative to musculosketal pain while also facilitating return and re-integration to work of those suffering from chronic pain involving reasonable accommodation and reasonable work place adjustments.
“A significant breakthrough is expected this month when the World Health Organisation is expected to recognise pain as a disease in its own right. This should act as a catalyst for further research, better treatment and a higher priority for chronic pain in both EU and member states health strategies, Independent MEP Marian Harkin concluded.