Fibromyalgia must be recognised as a disability and a disease – Deering

16th July, 2012


Thousands suffer from crippling illness with little or no support from the State

Fine Gael TD for Carlow / Kilkenny, Pat Deering, has today (Thursday) called on the Ministers for Health and Social Protection to recognise Fibromyalgia as a disability and a disease so that sufferers can receive the critical care and support that they need in order to live with this crippling illness.

Deputy Deering hosted an information session in Lenister House yesterday afternoon with Fibromyalgia sufferers from across the country who shared their experiences of being diagnosed with the disease and the daily struggles they face with little or no support from the State.

“Fibromyalgia affects thousands of people in this country; 90% are women and 10% are men. Patients suffer from chronic head, neck, back, thigh and knee pain, as well as fatigue, sleep impairment, depression and memory loss. There is no cure for this disease and, while patients won’t die from it, they will die with it. It can take many years and a lot of money to diagnose Fibromyalgia, as GPs in this country have received no formal training about it and patients can see any number of doctors and be prescribed a wide range of incorrect medication, before finally receiving a correct diagnosis.

“I am calling on Ministers James Reilly and Joan Burton to recognise Fibromyalgia as a disease and a disability. The World Health Organisation recognised it as a disease in 1992 and the European Parliament adopted a written declaration on Fibromyalgia in 2008 and instructed that this declaration be passed to Member States, but it has still not been implemented in Ireland.

“As a direct consequence of the failure to recognise Fibromyalgia as a disease and a disability in this country, patients have huge difficulty receiving the disability allowance from the Department of Social Protection and they cannot avail of the long term illness scheme from the HSE which would provide crucial access to drugs free of charge, home help, personal assistance, psychological services and occupational therapy.

“Last year, two people with Fibromyalgia took their own lives. We urgently need to recognise this disease for what it is and support those who suffer from the crippling pain Fibromyalgia inflicts on sufferers on a daily basis. This disease is on the rise and a number of support groups are being set up around the country, including a group in Carlow of which I am an active supporter, and I am committed to working closely with these patients to ensure that this disease is duly recognised and supported by the State and its citizens.”