2.The Legislature finds and declares that:
a.Parkinson's disease is a debilitating, painful, and incurable neurological disorder of unknown origin that disrupts and can end the lives of those who suffer from it;
b.Parkinson's disease causes diverse symptoms, including rigidity, slowness of movement, poor balance, and tremors, which lead to an impaired ability to walk, speak, swallow, and even breathe, so that the end result can be a clear mind trapped inside a body that has lost its ability to function;
c.The visible symptoms of Parkinson's disease are often mistaken to be a normal part of the aging process;
d.In addition, many people with the disease encounter precarious legal and personal situations in which they are erroneously thought to be under the influence of illegal or prescription drugs or alcohol due to their movement and gait patterns;
e.Parkinson's disease takes an enormous emotional, psychological, and physical toll on caregivers and families, potentially overwhelming their lives;
f.It has been estimated that 1.5 million Americans have been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, 50,000 more are diagnosed nationally each year, and another 1.5 million persons have the disease but have never seen a neurologist;
g.Parkinson's disease costs Americans $25 billion per year, including medical treatments, disability payments, and lost productivity;
h.Medications can only control some of the symptoms of the disease and only for uncertain periods of time;
i.New Jersey, with the largest concentration of pharmaceutical companies of any state in the nation and its top academic research facilities, is a center for Parkinson's disease research and treatment;
j.The "Morris K. Udall Parkinson's Disease Research Act of 1997," Pub.L.105-78, provides federal funding through the National Institutes of Health for Parkinson's disease, and April 11 has been proclaimed to be World Parkinson's Day in order to recognize the need for more research and help in dealing with the devastating effects of this disease;
k.This State, through the enactment of Joint Resolution No. 17 on January 7, 2000, has designated April in each year as "Parkinson's Disease Awareness Month" in New Jersey, and directs the Governor to annually issue a proclamation calling upon the public officials and citizens of the State to observe this month with appropriate activities and programs;
l.Increased public awareness and education are needed among health care, social services, judicial, law enforcement, and emergency medical services personnel in order to better respond to the needs of Parkinson's disease patients and their caregivers and families; and
m.It is imperative for New Jersey to commit itself to actively support such public awareness and education efforts throughout the State in order to better meet the needs of its citizens who are suffering from Parkinson's disease.
L.2014, c.76, s.2.