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First European Forum on Fibromyalgia

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euflag-150The first European forum on FM “I Foro Europeo De Fobromialgia” organized by the Spanish association Acofifa was a great success. It was held on October 8th-10th and included several speakers of international fame in the field of FM and an audience of around 350 people including patients, physicians, students, lawyers and patient associations from Spain and the European Network of Fibromyalgia Associations (ENFA).

On October 8th, after the official opening by Soledad Morales Cañas, president of ACOFIFA, the first speaker was Dr. Fernández Solà from Spain who talked about the similarities and differences between FM, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Multiply Chemical Sensibility. He was followed by Dr. Jon Russell from the US who told the audience that fibromyalgia has been scientifically proven to be real, and spoke about his part in this and how far researchers  were at the moment with finding a drug to help patients.

After these two lectures there was time for discussions between the speakers and audience lead by Jesús Gómez Trigo, a psychiatrist from Spain and medical advisor of Acofifa. This opportunity was the main reason many people turned up to be part of the forum.

On October 9th the first speaker was Dr Francisco Branco from Spain. He talked about the FM research  going on in the biomedical field, what Spain’s role was in this and how far they had come at the present time.. Although it appears that there is a lot of research going on, research into other rheumatic conditions is way ahead. He pointed out that much can be achieved in this area by patients and patient’s associations applying pressure.

Dr Branco was followed by the president of ENFA, Robert Boelhouwer, who took the opportunity to tell the audience about ENFA, its goals and the way to achieve them. He also explained what the added value was of ENFA for the national and local FM associations

After a coffee break the programme continued and the next in line to speak was Dr Estivill. He spoke about sleeping problems in general and the specific sleep disorders in FM. Not only was his lecture amusing, it also explained what possible treatments for sleep disorders are available and how far the research in this field has come. After his lecture there followed another discussion with the audience.  Dr Branco was questioned about the attitude of physicians towards FM and Dr Estivill was asked about the interaction of sleep and pain in FM. The subjects of medication, pain and sleep disturbances were also frequently discussed and after some often emotional discussions it was time for lunch.

The programme continued with Mrs. Mónica Rodríguez Bouza who talked about the Multi-disciplinary Programme and its evolution in Andalucía. The winning factor was that the patient could play a more prominent role in his or her treatment and evaluation. The next speaker was Jose Fernando Lousada Arochena, a judge from the Social Court of Galicia, Spain who spoke about the procedures and the difficulties of the court with the judging of cases involving FM patients.  He also emphasized that the judges are bound by the law and personal ideas or feelings cannot play any role in the decisions.  If changes to the system are necessary then it is up to the politicians to do that.

The last speaker was Dr Martínez-Lavin from Mexico who spoke about the holistic approach to FM treatment and all the research he and his colleagues have done. The holistic approach involves looking at the human body as a whole.  The functioning of the body depends on different aspects and if one aspect is not working well then chaos will follow which culminates in the person feeling ill. During the discussion between the speakers and audience the judge was asked about different aspects of the legal procedure and how he decides who to believe in court: the patient or the social worker who wrote the report.

The lectures and discussions came to an end and the forum was closed by a representative from the country Mr. Pablo Villamar Diaz and the president of ACOFIFA, Mrs. Soledad Morales Cañas.  In her speech she thanked Manuel who had not only acted as master of ceremonies, but also was strongly committed to fibromyalgia and the production of the forum.  She also invited the audience to the closing dinner which was sponsored by the town of A Coruna. This was a very pleasant event which a lot of people took part in.

The following day interested parties visited Santiago de Compestella, a famous place of pilgrimage, where the Cathedral and The Portico of Glory tells the story of St Jacob and his ideas on his faith.

All and all we had some very interesting days and greatly appreciated the excellent organization and the warm welcome we received in A Coruna, not only from the president and all the volunteers but also from the people who came to the forum and the speakers.

 By Joop van Griensven

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