Doha, 11 June 2023: The departments of Patient Family Education and Neurology Outpatient within Hamad Medical Corporation’s Neuroscience Institute recently organized World Multiple Sclerosis Day with a number of activities held over two days with the aim to raise public awareness of multiple sclerosis - one of the most common diseases of the central nervous system or brain and spinal cord.
The awareness campaign featured a main exhibition in the booth set up at Hamad General Hospital’s main entrance to offer information about MS and answer inquiries from staff and hospital visitors about the disease to the campaign team. Visitors also received educational materials and leaflets.
World MS Day falls on every May 30 and it was first initiated in 2009 by the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation (MSIF) and its global members to bring the global MS community together to share stories, raise awareness, campaign with everyone affected and, ultimately, move closer to a world free of the disease.
The theme for World MS Day 2020-2023 is ‘Connections’ with emphasis on building community connection, self-connection and connections to quality care. The campaign tagline is ‘I Connect, We Connect’ and the campaign hashtag is #MSConnections.
“We want people with MS and their families or carers to know that they are not alone. The whole world is connected to support them and in HGH, we provide them with comprehensive MS service. This theme of MS Connections challenges social barriers that leave people affected by MS feeling lonely and socially isolated. It is an opportunity to advocate for better services, celebrate support networks and champion self-care. So, during our awareness campaign, we provided information about the well-established and comprehensive MS service available at HGH to staff, hospital visitors and the whole community,” explained Dr Ahmed Mohd Abdulla Own, Director Neuroscience Institute.
He explained further that Multiple sclerosis is one of the most common diseases of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). “Today, 2.9 million people around the world have MS. The disease is an inflammatory demyelinating condition. It is caused by damage to myelin – a fatty material that insulates nerves. In MS, the loss of myelin affects the way nerves conduct electrical impulses to and from the brain. Symptoms can include blurred vision, weak limbs, tingling sensations, unsteadiness, memory problems and fatigue,” Dr. Own stated.
Dr. Omer Suliman, Senior Consultant and Director of MS Program at HGH noted that most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40 and that MS is two to three times more common in women than in men. There is no drug that can cure MS, but treatments are available which can modify the course of the disease.
He stated that the Neurology Department at HMC delivers advanced highly specialized care to patients with MS in dedicated MS specialized clinics. “We run six clinics per week to enable the MS patients to avail focused, individualized and world-class treatment in Qatar from expert MS consultants. Multiple sclerosis appointments are scheduled upon referral, with no waiting time. Currently, we provide care for about 2000 people with MS,” he highlighted.
Ms Khadija Said Hamood Al Shukaili, ED Nursing said: "The Multiple Sclerosis (MS) World Day is marked to shed light on the importance of MS patient care and it was an opportunity for awareness. Our nursing workforce is devoted to providing high quality care to our affected patients and their family."
According to Neurology educators, Ms. Sajtiha Ramachapatt and Ms. Hanan Osman Odaa Mohamed, dedicated neurology patient educators have a key role in the service provided. “The educators meet with patients and families to educate them regarding medications, treatments, procedures, continuing care and various aspects of living with MS. They also act as a liaison between the patient and healthcare personnel to keep the lines of communication flowing,” they noted.
“In addition, the educators listen to the patients and families to ensure that their needs are addressed providing an opportunity to raise concerns and queries via MS hotline service as well as ensure that the patients get the best care possible,” they added.