Health policy “needs to prioritise chronic pain”/La política debe atender al dolor crónico como una prioridad


‘Societal Impact of Pain’ Symposium 2016 discusses the socioeconomic impact of pain and policy solutions/En el simposio ‘Impacto social del dolor’ 2016 se debate el impacto socioeconómico del dolor y las soluciones políticas a este problema.

Approximately 20 percent of Europe’s adult population, more than 80 million people, suffer from chronic pain, meaning pain which occurs repeatedly over a period of three months or longer. This is more than twice the number of patients with diabetes. Some 9 percent of Europeans experience pain very day. The total direct and indirect costs of chronic pain amount to an estimated 1.5 to 3 percent of total European GDP. It is against this alarming background that the European Pain Federation EFIC and its partners discussed the socioeconomic implications of pain and policy solutions to this burden for individual and societies at the 6th European Symposium “Societal Impact of Pain (SIP 2016): Time for Action” in Brussels. The meeting brought together over 200 pain experts, patients’ representatives, and policymakers representing 28 European countries.

“It is of utmost importance to increase the visibility of chronic pain as a medical, economic, and social problem, since it affects quality of life more than most other illnesses,” says EFIC President Dr Chris Wells. “Chronic pain affects the quality of life more than many other conditions, and it is the number one reason why people see their doctors. We need to address the huge burden the treatment of chronic pain places on health budgets, but above all the indirect costs arising from lost productivity and incapacity for work.” Chronic pain accounts for 500 million sick days a year and is the most frequent cause of early retirement and incapacity for work.

“The SIP 2016 symposium engaged all stakeholder groups involved in future policy making impacting the societal impact of pain”, says Prof Bart Morlion, EFIC’s EU Liaison Officer and President Elect. “With this symposium, we can contribute to this end by providing an opportunity for an exchange of information and best practices and by stimulating task-oriented discussion, which is of particular importance in view of the under treatment problem we are facing in the field of pain care in Europe.”

More than half of chronic pain patients suffer from the condition for two years and more before they receive adequate treatment, as the “Pain Proposal” study showed some years ago. A third of patients get no treatment at all.

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