In my capacity as Chair of the European Parliament Osteoporosis Interest Group, I was invited to chair a workshop in Brussels today on the Societal Impact of Pain. The focus of the event was the future requirements, possibilities and promises of evidence-based medicine, personalised or stratified medicine in pain management.
Keynote presentations were delivered by a range of fantastic speakers, including: Audrey Craven (European Headache Alliance), Willem Scholten (WHO), Elisabetta Vaudano (Innovative Medicines Initiative), Peter Cremer-Schaeffer (Federal Opium Agency), Finn Børlum Kristensen (EUnetHTA), Marco Spizzichino (Italian Ministry of Health), Francois Meyer (Haute Autorité de Santé), Joan Carles March Cerdá (Andalusian School of Public Health), and Núria Paladio Duran (Catalan Agency for Health Technology Assessment and Research).
I was particularly impressed by Audrey Craven’s intervention, which opened the workshop. She focused on the perspective of patients, making it clear that they are the ones who benefit (or not) from decisions that are made. What’s more, she highlighted that all of us are potential patients. I totally agree with Audrey that patients not only need to be listened to and informed, but they also must be empowered to take control of their lives.
The fact is that pain is a major healthcare problem in Europe. According to a 2006-7 European Commission survey, a quarter of all citizens experienced pain affecting muscles, joints, neck or back, lasting for three months or more. Pain affects people’s ability to carry out their normal daily activities and can cause immense suffering. It also has an enormous societal cost. That’s why I, as an EU policy-maker, will be working hard to adopt a much wider, strategic perspective when deliberating with colleagues about service provision and resource allocation.