Swiss President Samuel Schmid has marked World Parkinson’s Day by signing the Global Declaration on Parkinson’s disease.This content was published on April 11, 2005 - 17:41
The declaration, which is sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO), calls for more solidarity and professional support for those with the degenerative disease.
Speaking at the signing ceremony in the Swiss capital, Bern, Schmid said healthy people should take responsibility for those who are ill.
"We cannot allow our society to individualise itself to such an extent that we are only interested in our own fate," he said.
Monday’s event was organised by Parkinson Switzerland, an independent charity which campaigns for the best possible quality of life for the estimated 15,000 people across the country who suffer from Parkinson’s.
The charity supports self-help groups, organises courses and further education and keeps medical experts, nurses and the public informed through brochures, guides and its own magazine.
"Society must be better informed in order to avoid stigmatising patients," said Kurt Meier, the charity’s president. "This declaration is an important step towards that."
In 2003 the Geneva-based WHO handed the global declaration over to governments and health experts. It called on countries to make informing the public about the disease a top priority.
The declaration urges politicians to ensure that people living with Parkinson’s receive adequate care and support.
The WHO also recommends better education for health specialists caring for people with the disease and says that countries with underdeveloped Parkinson’s programmes should be given practical assistance.
There is no known cure for Parkinson’s, but medical advances have helped bring the disease under control. Doctors say that with the right treatment patients can expect to lead normal and productive lives.
swissinfo with agencies
The average age at which symptoms of Parkinson’s begin is 58-60.
It's estimated that around 15,000 people in Switzerland suffer from Parkinson’s disease.
The disease occurs in all parts of the world, but appears to be more common in people of European ancestry than in those of African ancestry.
Monday marked the 250th anniversary of the birth of James Parkinson, the British physician who discovered and documented the disease’s symptoms in 1817.