In June 2018 The Lancet published three seminal papers on lower back pain (ref 1 appended). Chronic pain affects one in five Europeans and the most common source of this pain is the back. Furthermore, it affects all age groups and over two-thirds of sufferers say that they are still in pain for more than twelve hours a day in spite of treatment. Moreover, nearly one-third claim that they have been poorly informed about the options for managing their pain. The figures tell us the immensity of the economic and social burden for society:
- The total cost to healthcare systems across Europe is estimated to be as high as €300 billion, varying between 2 and 3% of the gross domestic product in most countries
- With more than 500 million sick days per year in Europe, musculoskeletal pain causes almost half of all absences from work in the EU that last at least three days
- Musculoskeletal pain causes 60% of permanent work incapacity
- Approximately 15% of Europeans suffering from back pain are on sick leave for over one month.
The ECU recognises the importance a healthy population contributes towards the quality of life in Europe and elsewhere. Economic prosperity, a productive labour supply and effective public spending are all greatly affected by public health policies. It has a dedicated Public Health Sub-Committee (PHC), chaired jointly by the ECU Vice President and the Secretary General with terms of reference:
- To be responsible for advising the General Council on public health matters as they relate to chiropractic in general and spine care in particu
- To be responsible for advising the General Council on ways in which the ECU can (i) work on public health projects and (ii) forge alliances with other organisations in support of common health objectives.
- To be responsible for the development, maintenance, review and dissemination of an ECU public health toolkit, which outlines a strategic course for chiropractic’s active involvement in programmes, including the identification of key public health priorities, advocacy opportunities and operational strategies for the improvement of health.
- To collaborate with other committees of the ECU as appropriate for the furtherance of the ECU’s objects.
The ECU also recognises that in the area of musculoskeletal health there remain inequalities across Europe in terms of access to effective care. It is committed to expanding the availability and accessibility of chiropractic care throughout the European continent.
It is ECU policy to support the activities and advice of the WHO and especially its Regional Office for Europe. All chiropractors are enjoined to follow WHO guidance on healthcare.
Ref 1 – The Lancet 2018; 381:2356-2388