The importance of access this World MS Day

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Sophie Paterson, Communications Manager from Multiple Sclerosis International Federation (MSIF), explores why access for people with MS is so important this World MS Day on 27 May 2015.

Multiple sclerosis is a complex condition. There is no set pattern to the disease and everyone with MS has a different set of symptoms, which can vary over time. We don’t know what causes MS (though it seems to be a mix of genetic, immunological and environmental factors), and as yet there is no cure. 

While research into the disease continues, much of the work of MS organisations involves supporting people with MS to live their best lives.

There are many barriers to this. In one country in five, according to the MS International Federation’s Atlas of MS, the government does not pay for the cost of disease-modifying drugs.  Many of those with MS face difficulty accessing buildings, transport and leisure facilities. And, in a few countries, it is still legally possible to lose your job because you have MS.

World MS Day: access

That’s why the focus for this year’s World MS Day campaign is access. This includes access to diagnosis, treatment and support; buildings, travel and leisure facilities; and education, training and employment.

We believe people with MS should have access to the same tools, services and facilities that people who do not have MS enjoy. The barriers to access faced by people with MS vary depending on where they live and what their symptoms are. We want to share different people’s experiences of access barriers around the world. We hope this will help people understand the complex nature of MS and help unite the global MS movement.

This year's World MS Day celebrates everyone who has broken down the barriers to living with MS. Those people could be carers, friends, family members, health professionals, policy makers, companies, schools or support groups…anyone who has made a difference to people with MS.

Stories of access from around the world

We’ve been hearing from people with MS around the world. From Teresina in Italy, who told us how a municipal surveyor ensured she could access her own home; from Eliana in Lebanon, whose employer gave their full support when she was diagnosed with MS, and from Suzanne in the UK, who successfully campaigned for access to the drug she needed.

These are just a few of the good news stories we have heard so far. The MS International Federation, and all those who take part in World MS Day (the campaign ran in 78 countries last year), will be marking what those people and organisations have done by saying thank you – by email, by post or on social media.

Together we’ll generate thousands of messages that celebrate achievements, raise awareness and inspire action, breaking down even more barriers to living with MS.

World MS Day takes place on 27 May 2015. Find out more here.