There is a welfare gap of nearly 26 million patients with this disease as reflected in a report sent to the European Parliament recently in the international report ‘Schizophrenia’. Call for action to policy makers’ has been presented in Brussels before the Interest Group in Mental Health, Welfare and Brain Disorders Parliament.
It includes the opinions of renowned international experts including those who are psychiatrists, researchers, policy advisors, nurses, patients, caregivers and support groups urging the authorities to take into account the recommendations made in this work for broadcast and implementation of local, regional and national.
As highlighted at the meeting to present the report, many patients with schizophrenia live on the edge of social exclusion, jobless and homeless, and this situation results in 10 percent of suicide cases. It also shortens the life expectancy of patients with respect to the general population between 15 and 20 years. However, with proper management, many victims can get to enjoy some quality of life and return to working life and society, as an active part of it.
Professor Celso Arango, only researcher in the group of authors of the report, scientific director of the Center for Biomedical Research in Mental Health (CIBERSAM) and member of the European Brain Council, ‘one of the reasons that led us to this writing is the perception that they are devoting all necessary resources for the prevention and treatment of psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia, in the territory of the European Union.’
The reality, as pointed out by the expert, is that mental illnesses have prevalence and associated disability equal to those of many other chronic medical conditions. Thus, investing in these patients ‘is critical because what we are seeing may delay the age of onset of the first psychotic episode and that has important consequences for the long-term prognosis of the person.’
Among other topics, the cost of health care for this disease is notable. In 2012, according to estimates by the European Union, psychotic disorders caused an approximate cost of 29 billion euros. That is about 5,805 euros per year for each patient tracking, which contemplates both direct-drug costs, day care centers, hospitalization and extended care-and indirect-sick leave, reduced productivity work, caregiver burden and premature death.
For all the experts are calling for action by policy makers and call for comprehensive care to patients with schizophrenia which takes into account both physical and mental aspects of the person.
They also call for more support for their integration into the community with the possibility of permanency, and the development of guidance mechanisms that help the patient to be guided through the employment systems and socio-sanitary services, often complex, but essential to promote recovery.
This could be conducted, as experts say, with the launch of regular awareness campaigns to improve awareness of schizophrenia in the general population.
In terms of legislation, proposed consulting health professionals and others directly involved in the management of schizophrenia, in order to review, update and improve policies periodically about the disease management.
They also call for more support to the research work in the process of developing new treatments that take into account all aspects of the pathology and face the current challenge in treating these patients, which is addressed holistically schizophrenia, treating the symptoms positive, negative and cognitive deficits.
‘Until now, we only have effective drugs for some of the symptoms of the disorder, such as delusions or hallucinations, but not for others as important as apathy, associativity or cognitive problems,’ says Dr. Arango.
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