The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition)

Campaigner­s’ plea to health secretary for ME research funding

- CATRIONA WEBSTER

Campaigner­s have called on the health secretary to act to make more funding available for ME research.

Emma Shorter, who has the debilitati­ng condition, sent a direct message to Shona Robison at a rally held outside Holyrood to highlight the 21,000 people affected in Scotland alone.

The Millions Missing event saw dozens of pairs of shoes laid outside the Parliament bearing the personal messages of those too ill to attend.

Organiser Ms Shorter was diagnosed with ME (myalgic encephalom­yelitis) at the age of 19 while in her first year at St Andrews University.

Now 23, the formerly keen hillwalker and skier lives with her parents in Edinburgh, where she struggles with day-to day tasks and is unable to work or study.

The condition, also called chronic fatigue syndrome, has symptoms including exhaustion and fatigue, chronic pain, sleep disturbanc­e, memory problems and gastrointe­stinal difficulti­es.

It affects more people in Scotland than multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s combined.

Ms Shorter said: “I am not going to spend the rest of my life being looked after by my parents because some sexist psychiatri­st in the 70s decided that, as the majority of patients were women, it must be hysteria.

“Now there is hope, now there are potential treatments, now we have world-class researcher­s looking into ME and they are really struggling to get funding.”

In a message to Ms Robison, she added: “I cannot believe that she thinks that 21,000 people in Scotland do not deserve proper care and treatment and I cannot believe that she is leaving it up to patients to sort it out for themselves.”

Ms Robison said: “Funding is available through the Chief Scientist Office, which welcomes applicatio­ns for research into the underlying causes, diagnosis and treatment of ME.

“CSO works closely with health research charities and would be happy to meet with those involved in ME research to discuss potential areas of collaborat­ion.”

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