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Emirates News Agency – UAE National MS Society joins World MS Day global celebrations


ABU DHABI, 29th May, 2023 (WAM) — The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, NMSS, has supported the UAE’s first nationwide celebration of World Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Day on 30th May.

World Multiple Sclerosis Day is a day of action for the global MS movement to raise awareness of MS, encourage understanding and support, and connect the more than 2.8 million people worldwide living with the disease.

World MS Day, held annually on 30 May, provides a platform to shed light on the challenges people with MS face while fostering community awareness, support and hope.

This year, NMSS spearheaded World MS Day celebrations in the UAE, with events and programs for people with MS throughout the month of May leading up to this day. A series of events are taking place this month aimed at raising awareness, increasing knowledge and improving understanding of people with MS.

Dr Fatima Al Kaabi, Vice-President of the Board of Directors of the National MS Society and Executive Director of the Bone Marrow Transplant Program at Abu Dhabi Stem Cell Center (ADSCC), said: “We are delighted to celebrate World MS Day in the UAE for the first time. Responsibility to support individuals affected by MS and work towards building a world where their needs are met and their voices heard.We are taking positive steps towards understanding MS by kicking off our month-long effort with our MS Circles roadshows across the UAE The challenges patients face and identify the gaps they face in accessing services and support. By listening to their stories, we can develop targeted solutions and advocate for change that truly meets their needs.”

From 1st to 9th May, NMSS hosted a series of MS Circles entitled ‘Connecting’ – one for each emirate – in line with this year’s World MS Day theme. After discussions with community members and analysis of service gaps, NMSS launched two new programs, MS Strong and New to MS. The former is a scalable health and wellness program designed to help people with MS create an achievable fitness regimen, and the latter is a series of webinars that provide those recently diagnosed with some of the leading tips on how to approach MS. Opportunities for Medical Specialists UAE.

NMSS is launching a national campaign to foster understanding and challenge perceptions; this includes launching a video campaign, community engagement through mall pop-ups and interactive installation The Cube, which will be on display across the UAE. The video tells a compelling story in the voices of MS patients and stunning visuals, taking viewers on a journey. From pursuing adventurous hobbies to enjoying the peaceful song of birds, this campaign vividly depicts people with MS living lives to the fullest. By sharing their stories, this video demonstrates that an MS diagnosis does not define a person’s potential to live a fulfilling life. The video culminates with the powerful inclusion of the social catchphrase Multiple Stories; united, leaving a lasting impression on the audience.

Working with malls across the UAE, NMSS launched the pop-up store in Abu Dhabi, followed by Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, Dubai, RAK and UAQ. The main goal of the pop-up program is to dispel myths and misunderstandings surrounding MS while promoting understanding and empathy. Friendly and knowledgeable staff are on hand to provide visitors with a variety of engaging activities; answer questions and share information about MS.

Combined with the mall’s presence, NMSS has taken a creative approach to raising national awareness through orange objects known as ‘cubes’ that circulate in the UAE. Its cultural foundation in Abu Dhabi has started a nationwide roadshow and will travel to each emirate in June. The Cube aims to symbolize the invisible symptoms of multiple sclerosis and illuminate the daily challenges faced by those living with the disease, representing society’s vision for a world without MS. It will be thoughtfully repurposed after the roaming installation is over.

In addition to national celebrations, the day also saw the signing of a new partnership agreement between NMSS and the London, UK-based Multiple Sclerosis International Federation (MSIF). Peer Baneke, CEO of MSIF, joined Dr. Fatima Al Kaabi for the virtual signing event and discussed the areas of collaboration outlined in the agreement and the progress towards realizing their shared vision of a future without MS. This includes a commitment to work together (1) to improve access to effective disease-modifying treatments and high-quality care in the UAE and MENA region, and (2) to collaborate on global advocacy priorities, including the need to improve access to low and MS treatments Middle-income settings, (3) work together to promote a better understanding of MS in the MENA region, including trends in disease prevalence and incidence, and to encourage better collection and sharing of data across the region.

“It has been fantastic to see with what energy, skill and care the UAE National MS Society was created to center the needs of all those affected by MS living in the UAE. We are very much looking forward to our future cooperation. I have no doubt that the National MS Society will be a force for good for those affected by MS in the UAE and the wider region and wish the Society every success this World MS Day and in all its endeavors in the years to come,” said Peer Baneke, CEO – Multiple Sclerosis International Federation.

Dr Fatima Al Kaabi added, “MSIF and UAE MS Association will work together to advocate for better access to diverse and affordable MS treatment in the UAE, regionally and globally, with UAE MS Association serving as a new key advocacy voice Middle East and North Africa. MSIF will leverage its decades of experience in providing advice and expertise to the UAE MS Society in an effort to serve the local MS community. Together, these collaborations reflect the UAE MS Society’s first effort to expand partnerships with the well-respected international MS Organizational partnership, which will bring medical, advocacy and operational expertise to the newly established association in the UAE.”

Most recently, the Emirates MS Association partnered with MSIF to support their application to include MS therapies on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines to improve access to treatment globally, and to support MSIF’s World MS Day global campaign.


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