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Fit For Work EuropeThe Work Foundation

Fit EU Blog

Discourse on work and wellbeing in the EU


Read Speech by Antoniya Parvanova MEP at FfW Pan-European Launch

“Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear colleagues and friends, thank you very much for being here with us tonight and welcome to the European Parliament.”

“I would like first to congratulate and thank the Work Foundation for the great piece of research which is being launched tonight, providing us with an in depth analysis of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and their social and economic impacts. I have always been an advocate of the development of evidence-based and effective policies, especially in the field of public health; and thanks to the Work Foundation; we have here solid evidence that more and better can be done for the management of MSDs in Europe, for the benefit of both citizens and the economy.”

“I would also like to thank my colleague Edite Estrela, for having moved this issue forward already during her previous mandate; and for having continuously raised awareness here the European Parliament about these conditions which may not be the very high in the current political agenda, but should deserve a greater attention from us policymakers, and from the healthcare and labour community.”

“Looking at the Fit for Work report, what surprised me first is the extent to which MSDs are affecting European citizens, leading to incapacity, exclusion and even mental health problems. We certainly do not pay enough attention to these conditions which are affecting the daily life of over 100 millions of European citizens, and which direct costs estimation account for up to 2% of the European GDP”

“The Work Foundation’s report presents recommendations for a new approach in the way MSDs are addressed through our social and public health policies in Europe. We first need more data in this field, to help defining the most effective and efficient policy. Early intervention in managing these conditions really makes a difference and lead to positive outcomes for both citizens and the economy as a whole. As a medical doctor, I also looked closely at the role played by healthcare professional in diagnosing these conditions and the need to consider return to the workplace as a positive and “clinical” outcome.”

“If we manage to operate all these “shifts” in mentalities and approach towards MSDs, I believe we have here a great opportunity to resonate with one of the Commission’s favourite motto: “Health is wealth”. They are clear evidences that MSDs are deeply affecting the European economy and competitiveness, and also clear evidences that a better and more comprehensive management of these conditions would lead to a better life for people affected by MSDs, a greater labour market inclusion, and a cost-effective response to this major public health problem.”

“It is now time to take action, to bring the issue forward in our agenda, and to start concrete political initiatives in order to better address MSDs, and to make Europe and its citizens “fit for work”! I am glad that we have tonight with us a representative from the Belgium government, a country which will have the Presidency of the EU during the second half of next year, and I am glad that we also have with us a representative from the European Commission.”

“Ms De Le Mata, Mr Tousseyn, as you can see, there are people in the European Parliament willing address this issue, and you can rely on my colleague Edite and I to mobilise our colleagues towards a greater policy involvement in this field. But we need you to take to the lead on this, to bring this issue at the Council and Commission’s table in order to take concrete actions, to make what we are discussing and supporting tonight a reality.”

“In concrete terms, I know that health and social policies mainly rely upon Member States competences, but there are already existing initiatives which will offer an opportunity to act and promote a better management of MSDs. I am thinking here most particularly about the upcoming Directive on work-related musculoskeletal disorders, expected for early next year. The upcoming Commission’s communication on health inequalities could also be the occasion to address these conditions, for which we can see great discrepancies between Member States.”

“But looking at the extent to which MSDs are affecting European citizens’ daily life, their participation to the labour market, and the European economy as whole, there is a clear rationale here for a dedicated and targeted initiative. We have seen in the past great example of coordinated policy actions from all Member States in addressing major public health issues. I am thinking here about a Council recommendation, which would encourage Member States to develop national plans making MSDs a social and public health priority, prioritising access to physical and psychological therapies for people living with MSDs, and enhancing their inclusion into the labour market. I believe this is the way can address the impact of MSDs for healthier citizens in a more productive Europe!”

“I will now leave the floor to Mr Will Hutton, Executive Vice-Chair of the Work Foundation. Thank you again to all of you for being here tonight, and let’s make Europe Fit for Work!”

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This entry was posted on Thursday, October 8th, 2009 at 2:12 pm and is filed under Europe, Health Policy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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