On May 19, the Overlapping Conditions Alliance launched the Campaign to End Chronic Pain in Women, an advocacy campaign fighting to end discrimination and improve care for women suffering from chronic pain. The Campaign aims to improve the quality of women's lives by raising awareness about chronic pain conditions that disproportionately impact women, as well as the neglect, dismissal and discrimination faced by women living with chronic pain under the current U.S. health care system.
At a press conference the Campaign released a groundbreaking report, Chronic Pain in Women: Neglect, Dismissal and Discrimination, which examines the current lack of effective treatments and research funding for chronic pain conditions that predominantly affect women, and how improvements in research, education and access to effective treatments could contribute to improved quality of care and cost control.
According to the report, in 2009 the National Institutes of Health invested only $65 million in research into the six chronic pain conditions highlighted in the report -- chronic fatigue syndrome, endometriosis, fibromyalgia, interstitial cystitis, temporomandibular (TMJ) disorders and vulvodynia -- just two-tenths of one percent of its total budget. That is an average of just $1.33 for every affected woman and represents less than one-tenth of one percent of the annual estimated cost of these conditions.
The Campaign includes volunteer leaders from four non-profit patient advocacy organizations, including The CFIDS Association of America, The Endometriosis Association, The National Vulvodynia Association, and The TMJ Association. The leaders of these organizations spoke out:
- "The costs to patients go beyond dollars," said Terrie Cowley, President, TMJ Association. "Patients can lose their dreams and hopes of careers, of a family, of a quality life and even life itself. This is why it is so important that cost effective investments in research be made, and that a campaign is created to educate healthcare professionals and promote public awareness of these conditions."
- "This campaign is about the pattern of neglect, dismissal and discrimination of women's chronic pain conditions, which serves as the latest example of one of the many gaps in the U.S. health care system that deepen human suffering," said Kim McCleary, President & CEO, CFIDS Association of America.
- "Women in our society are oftentimes raised with the notion that it's normal to suffer," said Mary Lou Ballweg, President & Executive Director, Endometriosis Association. "Education of health care professionals and the general public is essential during this time of reform, to ensure that women in this country no longer have to suffer in silence."
- "Chronic pain doesn't just affect the sufferer - it affects each and every one of us and every part of our society," said Christin Veasley, Associate Director, National Vulvodynia Association. "By appropriately investing in research, educating medical professionals and the public at large, we have a real opportunity to change the lives of millions of American women, their families, our economy, and society as a whole."
"While healthcare reform legislation took an important first step to address chronic pain issues, we have a lot of work ahead of us," said a representative for the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues Co-Chair Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). "I look forward to working closely with the Campaign to End Chronic Pain in Women to teach our healthcare system how to confront chronic pain and ensure that no woman suffers needlessly."
Published On: May 25, 2010