Former Upper Bann MLA Jo-Anne Dobson recently chaired an international Fibromyalgia and ME conference featuring eminent speakers and researchers from the United States, Norway and London.
The ‘Seeking Solutions’ conference, which took place in the Long Gallery at Stormont, was organised by charity Hope 4 ME and Fibro.
The event was chaired by Mrs Dobson, a patron of the charity, and was hosted by her UUP colleague, Lagan Valley MLA Robbie Butler.
Conference speakers included Dr William Weir (London), Professor Olav Mella (Bergen, Norway), David Tuller DrPH (University of California, USA), Linda Tannenbaum (USA) and Dr Christine McMaster (Public Health Agency).
During her address, Mrs Dobson highlighted the plight of thousands of local people who suffer from chronic illness. She said: “The Stormont corridors may well be silent at the moment, but Hope 4 ME and Fibro never miss an opportunity to get our views across.
“By bringing a whole army of international experts to Northern Ireland we want health service officials to listen and to learn and we were delighted to see officials and professionals from across the health service in attendance.”
She continued: “Once again we came to Stormont with a simple message – that we must never forget about the thousands of local people for whom chronic illness is a daily norm.
“For too long patients have suffered through the total absence of understanding, specialist support and care across our local health service, and through the continued work of Joan McParland, Sally Burch and their committee we are slowly beginning to see a change.
“Our speakers brought unique perspectives to the study of Fibromyalgia and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis – perspectives which will strengthen our understanding – and lead to better outcomes for patients.
“Our aim is to continue to bring hope to patients and their families and through greater awareness and understanding to see positive change from diagnosis to treatment – I truly hope that that action will come sooner rather than later.”