Late last year, Fit for Work (FfW) Estonia took part in a debate to discuss how people with musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) can be supported by policymakers to stay in and return to work to coincide with the publication of FfW Estonia.
Over a hundred people took part in a lively debate which took place in Tallin. We were pleased to see a large number of high-level policymakers involved in the debate, such as Hanno Pevkur, the Minister of Social Affairs; Andres Tsahkna, the Head of Estonian Parliament Health Board and Peeter Ross, the Head of the Estonian Health Insurance Fund.
The debate explored recent findings which reveal that chronic diseases in Estonia cost the economy 27.2 million. Over two-thirds (68.7%) of this is due to reduced working hours and absences from work.
Despite this compelling evidence, policymakers in Estonia rarely recognise how work can contribute to improved health outcomes and economic returns. So it was welcome progress when Estonian MP, Andres Tsahkna, pledged his commitment to continue a relationship with the newly established FfW Estonia Coalition to improve work outcomes for people with MSDs.
The event featured FfW Europe Coalition member Professor Ingemar Petersson and captured the expertise of rheumatologists, rehabilitation doctors, clinicians, occupational health practitioners and e-health authority representatives. It also included powerful personal testimony from those with personal experience of MSDs demonstrating how the impact of such conditions can be reduced through the right kind of support.
The resounding conclusion was that chronic conditions are presenting a massive burden on the Estonian social and healthcare systems. Barriers preventing people with MSDs from working will only be broken down through early intervention and comprehensive national plans which improve the management of chronic diseases.
As the constructive debate drew to a close, Professor Petersson concluded, “If the FfW Estonian Coalition continues working along the lines we have seen today, within a couple of years the situation for Estonian patients will be much better.”