People suffering from ME are not receiving adequate treatment because many doctors and researchers are failing to take the condition seriously, the government’s health advisory body has said.
In an official report, the Gezondheidsraad said the chronic condition was too often downgraded to ‘fatigue’ or a problem ‘between the ears’, while patients tended to be dismissed as attention seekers, NOS reported.
Between 30,000 and 40,000 people in the Netherlands are estimated to suffer from ME or chronic fatigue syndrome. Some of them spend days in bed recovering. Patient Lisa Klaasen told NOS: ‘Compare it with a heavy flu. You’re ill and in pain and your whole body is constantly crying out with tiredness.’
Yvonne van der Ploeg, a member of the executive board of the ME/CFS association, said research into the condition had stood still for 40 years. ‘Now at last we can start to make inroads,’ she said.
The Gezondheidsraad said diagnosis of the condition was hampered by doctors’ preconceptions and tendency to regard it as a psychological issue. Patients with ME are often required to undergo behavioural or occupational therapy to qualify for benefits and health insurance, even though these treatments are often ineffective.
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