At a press conference last month, Federal Minister for Health, Ginette Petitpas Taylor, announced Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) funding for ME research.
The announcement, watched by hundreds on Livestream, was for $1.4 million funding to establish an ME research collaborative to encourage new and young researchers to enter the ME research field. Many ME patients are involved in this project, which allows for patients to be inserted at all levels of the research process.
While ME patients deserve and need much more funding for research, and have deserved and needed this for decades, as Dr. Alain Moreau, lead on the ME collaborative research project, was quoted saying on CBC: "This $1.4 million is just the beginning of something...We know we need much more money, for sure, but yesterday's announcement was a big step for all of us."
Addressing the shortage of Canadian ME researchers ensures that there will be more applications for large grants for ME research projects in the future, and that these applications will have a much greater chance of success. Yesterday's funding announcement was for beginning the creation of the infrastructure required for substantial government investment in ME research.
We finally have a champion at the CIHR, thanks to Dr. Karim Khan, Director of the Institute of Muskuloskelatal Health and Arthritis. And thanks to a Minister of Health willing to come out and declare myalgic encephalomyelitis a real and serious illness that needs research funding.
But we must reserve our deepest thanks for Dr. Moreau and his fellow researchers and ME clinicians for taking the risk to get involved in ME when few would come near it; deep thanks for the decade's work of Canadian ME advocates who kept on going in the face of unrelenting stigma and scorn; and a huge thanks to the influx of amazing patient advocates who have shouted, stood on chairs, protested virtually and on Canadian streets (and lawns!), told their stories, and negotiated behind the scenes, sacrificing their time and health to get this validation and support. Much love and thanks to all of you!
It is the beginning of a new era for ME. Let's celebrate our victory!