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Sinn Féin MEPs sign written declaration on rheumatic diseases

11 July, 2005

Sinn Féin MEPs Bairbre de Brún and Mary Lou McDonald have signed an EU written declaration on rheumatic diseases today calling on the EU Commission and Council to make research and action on rheumatic diseases a priority.

Ms de Brún said:

"Over 100 million people of all age groups in the EU have arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. Rheumatic diseases can be serious, disabling and painful, and can frequently result in people affected experiencing social exclusion and reduced life expectancy

"Effective research can help the development of new therapies for rheumatic diseases, bringing huge relief to those affected and ensuring that people with rheumatic diseases can lead full and independent lives. The reality is that they need both appropriate support and effective treatment.

"At a meeting with Arthritis Care in March to discuss research funding for arthritis treatments, disability legislation and healthcare provision for people with arthritis, I gave a commitment that I would support such a declaration on rheumatic diseases in the European Parliament. It has now been put forward by MEPs from across the political spectrum including my own group.

"In signing this declaration Sinn Féin is adding its voice to the demand for effective research that will foster new therapies for rheumatic diseases and for better access to existing treatments.

The declaration specifically calls for the EU Commission and Council to:
ensure that the EU's 7th Research Framework Programme makes rheumatic diseases one of its explicit priorities;
ensure that the EU's new health strategy makes arthritis (musculoskeletal disorders) one of its priorities;
strengthen legislation to outlaw disability discrimination through a specific Disability Directive;
encourage Member States to take measures to ensure better access to the full range of treatments in all EU countries.

"A written declaration is regarded as having been adopted by the European Parliament if a majority of MEPs have signed it within a period of three months. This declaration has only just become available and has gathered 200
signatures already.  This shows the importance attached to this issue both
at home and abroad." ENDS

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