Today is World MS Day, a day for people around the world to take action, share stories, raise awareness and campaign with and for everyone affected by multiple sclerosis. Although Canada has the highest rate of MS in the world, MS transcends international borders and impacts the lives of people around the globe. Conceived of in 2009 by the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation and growing in strength and reach every year, World MS Day is an opportunity to give the 2.3 million people living with MS a unified voice to tell the world what it means to have MS and what are some ways in which we’re fighting the disease.
This year, the theme of World MS Day is access; specifically, breaking down barriers faced by people living with MS, whether those barriers are physical, psychological, socio-economic, or otherwise. The MS Society is committed to maximizing access to support and resources to allow people living with MS to cope with the disease and manage their symptoms alongside the other demands of life. Programs and services that are available to help dismantle barriers to access include financial assistance, peer support, youth programs, supportive counselling, equipment and special assistance funding. Visit our website to learn more.
Access to current and accurate information for people living with MS is one of the MS Society’s top priorities, and we provide a comprehensive library of educational resources such as brochures and fact sheets dealing with the many aspects of life with MS. We also provide up-to date research reports on the latest scientific breakthroughs funded by the MS Society, stories from the research community and profiles on leading MS researchers. To provide access for people living with MS to research projects and clinical trials, the Research Portal highlights studies in Canada that are seeking participants and provides contact information.
The 2015 MS Research Town Hall is one vehicle through which people living with MS gain access to the insights of prominent MS researchers in an interactive and informative format. This by-phone and live-streamed event takes places this evening to mark World MS Day and gives listeners the opportunity to ask questions and participate in polls to help the MS Society understand how best to shape its ongoing work.
Beyond discussions about improving access for people living with MS, World MS Day is also about celebrating the many important breakthroughs that have punctuated the research landscape. The last few months have seen important strides in deepening our understanding about how the disease unfolds, the genetic and environmental factors that affect MS risk, and promising new therapeutic targets for putting a halt to disease progression. Here are some of the highlights:
- A new class of compound is identified with the potential to protect against nerve damage and stop MS progression
- A new potential genetic risk factor for relapsing-remitting MS is identified in women
- Vitamin D is showed to stimulate the activity of neural stem cells that promote myelin repair
- The hormone prolactin, when combined with a disease-modifying therapy, has the ability to reduce disease severity in animals with an MS-like disease
Spread the word about World MS Day, share your story and tell the world what makes you #strongerthanMS. Don’t forget to leave a comment below and tell us where you would like to see barriers to access broken down.