A Hidden Crisis

Thank you to Mayor Cathy Murillo and the Santa Barbara City Council for dedicating May 12 to a critical public health crisis most people know nothing about. Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome/fibromyalgia — also known as ME/CFS/FM — prevents sufferers from going to work or attending school. Because many are housebound or bedbound, those in our community with ME/CFS/FM are too often hidden and forgotten.

It is estimated that up to 2.5 million ME/CFS patients and 5 million fibromyalgia patients live in the U.S. They often suffer from multiple debilitating symptoms that impact every aspect of their lives. Too much is still unknown about these illnesses, and millions of patients suffer in pain and receive little help.

Sadly, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) fund minimal research, and it is left to the private sector to try to find answers. I work with the Open Medicine Foundation (OMF) to fund research internationally. The progress we are making is coming from individuals who see the importance of helping people return to their pre-illness lives.

I am honored that our city is formally recognizing International ME/CFS/FM Awareness Day and encouraging residents to educate themselves, to show compassion, and to support funding and research. We invite you to join the fight for those who are too ill to advocate for themselves. They need each of us to stand up and be heard. More than 100 Visibility Actions will happen around the world on May 12 for #MillionsMissing, with the nearest at Santa Monica’s 3rd Street Promenade at noon. Join the action. Get involved.

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