This week I was in Bucharest to launch the Romanian ‘Fit for Work’ report. The setting for the launch was the incredible Parliamentary Palace, second only to the Pentagon in size. It dominates the south-western part of the city and many houses, churches and a football stadium were demolished to make way for it and surrounding government buildings. (more…)
Today in Budapest, people living with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) joined leaders in rheumatology from across the EU to demand that policymakers acknowledge the impact RMDs have on a person’s ability to participate in society and so create national plans to address the burden of RMDs.
This week, the Fit for Work Europe Coalition is hosting an EU Presidency Conference together with The Hungarian Association of Rheumatologists (MRE), The Ministry of National Resources (Government of Hungary) and The European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR). The Conference will centre on the impact of Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Diseases (RMDs) at EU and national level, as well as ensuring the EU’s Disability Strategy gives due focus to RMDs in the workplace across the EU.
You can download the agenda below for the programme: “Burden of Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Diseases: Challenges in Work Capacity and Prevention of Disability in the EU”.
Yesterday I took great pleasure in launching the findings of the Fit for Work Greece research in sunny Athens. I was honoured to be a keynote speaker at the 1st Pan-Hellenic Congress on Occupational Health & Safety, presenting to an audience of 1,200 people. The event was also attended by Deputy Minister for Labour Mr Giorgos Koutroumanis, whom I had the pleasure to welcome to the ‘Fit for Work’ stand at the Congress.
I had the privilege yesterday to participate in the European Parliament Interest Group on Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Diseases session in Brussels.
I found the meeting very dynamic and positive and I noticed that our efforts both in EULAR, the EUMUSC.NET and in Fit for Work Europe are well recognised both by the MEPs and the representatives for Commissioner John Dalli.
Last week I attended two important events which focused on inflammatory conditions. The first was on Monday in London and was a conference organised by the National Audit Office (NAO) – an independent organisation which reports to the British Parliament on the effectiveness with which public money is being spent.
Earlier this year the NAO produced an influential report examining the quality of services for people with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). I was a member of the Advisory Group for the project, along with other friends of the Fit for Work? project such as Professor Paul Emery and Neil Betteridge of EULAR, and Ailsa Bosworth of the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS). Dame Carol Black, National Director for Health and Work, and herself a Rheumatologist, presented persuasively on the need to keep ‘work’ at the centre of the debate. I spoke on a panel discussion during the conference and emphasised the need to optimise early diagnosis and treatment – not just for clinical reasons – but to give people with Rheumatoid Arthritis the best chance of staying in and returning to work.
The second event was in Madrid on Wednesday evening and it focused on recent research (called Salud y Trabajo) conducted on the impact of inflammatory conditions on work disability in Spain conducted by TAISS and led by Pablo Lazaro. The event also featured two short films, made by independent film-makers, which told the compelling stories of two people recently diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Ankylosing Spondylitis respectively. One of the aims of the event was to inform members of the audience about the impact of these conditions on both everyday functioning and on personal relationships. I hope to make these films available on the Fit for Work? website very soon.
The Fit for Work Europe Coalition works to promote a multi-stakeholder dialogue on musculoskeletal disorders to drive clinical practice and health and work policy that will improve the quality of working life for people with MSDs. Fit for Work is a partnership of organizations and individuals, and enjoys the patronage of The Work Foundation, the Bone and Joint Decade, EULAR and RAND Europe, and a broad range of stakeholders. The Fit for Work Europe Coalition is supported by an ongoing grant from Abbott--a founding partner--and a supporting grant from GE Healthcare. Secretariat support is provided by Weber Shandwick.