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
Contact: Mia Gannedahl
European League Against Rheumatism