The ECU actively seeks to ensure that – as confirmed by settled EU case-law – the health and life of humans ranks foremost amongst European citizens’ interests. To that end, the ECU seeks to ensure that the regulation of the chiropractic healthcare profession, having public health and patient safety implications, is proportionate and contributes to the guaranteeing of access to safe, high quality and efficient healthcare for European citizens, which is recognised as a fundamental right in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
Low back pain has been identified as the greatest specific cause of years lost through disability, with neck pain the fourth greatest, according to the most recent Global Burden of Disease Study. In terms of Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) there were estimated to be 21.7 million lost globally in 2010 to occupational low back pain.
The cost of low back and neck pain to individuals, communities, nations and Europe is enormous. As well as a personal cost, there is a significant impact on productivity and economic prosperity. With an increasing ageing population, limitations in mobility through spinal disorders and the consequent social exclusion and related health issues lead to spiralling costs of care.
There are current inequalities in the provision of chiropractic health services in Europe, both in terms of capacity and accessibility. In some countries, chiropractic is provided as part of the national health service, while in others, chiropractors are subject to prosecution for practising medicine without a licence. This inequality is not in the public interest and denies a significant number of European citizens access to chiropractic.
Chiropractors have an important role to play in delivering integrated, efficient and effective services to promote active lifestyles and prevent disability through spinal disorders.
In order to address the public health burden of back and neck pain, and the inequalities in the provision of care, one of the fundamental objectives of the ECU is to widen public access to chiropractic health services.