Susan Deacon was right to speak about the growing awareness of ME, but that should not mask the considerable ignorance that still exists in Scotland about the condition and its symptoms. ME sufferers do not simply experience fatigue. In general, they regularly experience many other symptoms, such as sore throats, muscle pains, headaches, disturbed sleep, digestive problems and depression.
There is also ignorance about the fact that the condition affects a great many people in Scotland—many more than are affected by higher profile conditions. In Scotland, some 15,000 people are thought to have ME. They include people of all ages, all social classes and men and women, although women are slightly more at risk than men.
The effects are severe. For young people, there can be disruption to education. There can be disruption to family life, work life and other serious effects. Despite that, and Scotland's history and
Some members have rightly said that more research into the condition is needed. More publicly funded research is needed. Alex Fergusson said that there is expertise in Scotland. There is a need to carry out research here. We could engage in initiatives that would go a great deal of the way to beginning to find some answers to basic questions without involving an enormous investment of public resources.
Many members want to speak, so I will be brief. I am glad that the issue has united members and that the deputy minister can offer a positive contribution.