Recognition for Chronic Fatigue researcher

Last updated 00:00 01/01/2009
JOHN HAROLD/Eastern Courier
DEDICATED DOCTOR: Rosamund Vallings has helped thousands of people with chronic fatigue syndrome.

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An interest in helping those with chronic fatigue syndrome has been a decades-long passion for Rosamund Vallings.

Dr Vallings, who lives in Clevedon and practises in Howick, was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Year honours list.

Her interest in chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalopathy started in the 1970s when she helped a researcher at Middlemore Hospital who was looking into the disorder.

"I’d studied it a bit in medical school in London," says Dr Vallings, who was born in England and came to New Zealand in 1966.

She had a passion for helping those with the condition and started an education and support group.

When she began as a general practioner in Bucklands Beach many of the sufferers she had met came to her for treatment.

She says now about 85 per cent of her patients are people with chronic fatigue syndrome, she is thought to be the only GP in New Zealand to specialise in the area.

The disorder affects about four in every 1000 people.

"Most people who get this will be busy, healthy people who catch some sort of virus, it could be the common cold or glandular fever."

The onset of the disorder also often coincides with a period of physical or mental stress, and Dr Vallings says those affected are genetically vulnerable to the disorder.

As well as feeling unusually exhausted, those affected may suffer headaches, sleep problems, muscle pain and often have a sore throat.

Dr Vallings says there isn’t a quick-fix drug so much of the treatment involves helping patients cope with the disorder and to make life style changes if necessary.

A lot of research being done is leading to exciting new approaches to treatment, she says.

She plans to keep working in the field.

"I think it’s a great challenge and a very stimulating area to work in and I have been involved in the education of other doctors and I found that very interesting too."

She says she felt overwhelmed to be made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit and wasn’t expecting the honour.

She has been a medical adviser to the Associated New Zealand Myalgic Ecephalopathy Society since 1980 and says she is grateful to the society because it has given her opportunities to travel to overseas conferences to further her interest in the field.

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- Eastern Courier

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