Fit for Work pan-European Report Presentation and policy Workshop 30 October
Minister Milquet, Ladies and Gentlemen; Distinguished Members of the European Parliament; Mrs Estrela, Mrs Parvanova, Mr Hutton, Distinguished Guests, many thanks for inviting me to take part in this reception and briefly present to you the work of the Directorate General for Health and Consumers of the European Commission;
Musculoskeletal disorders are unfortunately common among the EU population. A third of all respondents of a Eurobarometer survey released on July 2007 expressed that they experienced muscle, joint, neck or back pain which affected their daily activities. The most common type of pain mentioned was back pain.
Since 2003 Musculoskeletal Disorders are considered in the Work Plans for the implementation of the first and second programme for Community action in the field of Public Health. Particular attention is given to the need of information and shared definition of indicators on musculoskeletal diseases.
In this context the Commission supported already in 2003 a project that contributed to the identification and development of appropriate indicators to monitor musculoskeletal conditions in the population. In the same area of data collection, the Commission selected for funding in 2008 another project aiming at developing an EU Surveillance and Information Network on Musculoskeletal Conditions.
I would like to mention another initiative co-financed by the European Commission: the “Move Europe” campaign run by the European Network for Workplace Health Promotion.
The campaign was active for two years and involved twenty-nine European countries. The campaign’s main concern was to create awareness of the importance that “healthy lifestyles,” such as regular physical activity, a balanced diet, abstention from smoking, have on the maintenance of a state of psycho-physical equilibrium of each individual.
The European Commission White Paper: A Strategy for Europe on Nutrition, Overweight and Obesity related health issues is focused on tackling obesity and overweight which are important risk factors of musculoskeletal diseases and it is therefore an important contribution to the prevention of these diseases.
Musculoskeletal diseases are an issue not only in the workplace, but also beyond the workplace. They are a challenge for our societies as a whole. They indeed have an impact on the quality of life and functional capacity of our citizens but they are also a burden for the resources available for health care and social security across Europe.
This requires attention both at EU and national levels. Policymakers and stakeholders will have to work together at EU to build an effective framework for action.
The Fit for Work pan-European report is an important contribution to the debate on the social and economic impact of musculoskeletal disorders in Europe. It provides relevant key indicators and helpful advice.
Thank you very much for your attention
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