Ireland had one of the highest incidences of arthritis but the resources necessary to tackle the seriously debilitating disease failed to meet the needs of over 900,000 people throughout Ireland.
This was stated by Independent MEP Marian Harkin commenting on the address given by Professor John Carey of Galway University Hospital at a conference organised by the Co. Mayo branch of the Arthritis Ireland in Westport on Friday, February 5th.
Despite the fact that 26,000 people in Co. Mayo suffered from arthritis, and over 900,000 in Ireland, and the help from the State for them was woefully inadequate, she said.
“When such huge numbers are affected by this disease it is extraordinary that the state does not have a fully funded programme embracing research and treatment to help those affected”, she said. As pointed out by Professor Carney the cost of treating fractures derived from arthritis was € ¾ billion and much of this could be avoided by early diagnosis of the disease, she said. The fact that Ireland was second only to Latvia in the EU in the number of practicising Rheumatologists emphasised the need to urgently address this major deficit, she said.
“Professor Carney indicated that if a patient was diagnosed at the four month stage the benefits would still be present 15 years down the road”, Marian Harkin said. This underlined the vital necessity for appropriate resources to be dedicated to early diagnosis and treatment and it also made economic sense for the state in the context of savings on treatments and easing pressure on hospital services, she said.
It was totally unacceptable that the waiting time for arthritis patients to access physiotherapy was over two years in the West of Ireland but just six months in the East, the Independent MEP said. “This is one reason why I have joined the Arthritis Ireland ‘”Why are we Waiting’ and ‘I’m an Arthritis Champion’ campaigns pressing for the resources needed to tackle this scourge which causes such hardship for so many in Co. mayo and throughout Ireland”, Independent MEP Marian Harkin concluded.