BEIRUT: There are around 2500 patients suffering from a disease that is unpredictable, often disabling, usually very hard to diagnose, and chronic, meaning patients have to learn to live with the disease.
Multiple Sclerosis, also known as MS, is a disease that affects the central nervous system including the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. This causes vision problems, pain, depression, memory problems, imbalance, muscle spasms, and many more painful symptoms, and in severe cases, paralysis.
In Lebanon, there’s an NGO that is working on making the lives of MS patients easier and capable. ALiSEP, is one of the NGOs specialized in helping patients with MS financially, medically, and socially. They currently have 1200 patients from all Lebanese regions undergoing their program.
Earlier this week, Alisep hosted an MS Awareness Day at ABC Verdun, under the title “Coloring MS”, to bring colors and positivity for MS patients. The event also hosted a Photo Booth, boxing activities, a violin performance, coloring activities, and an explanation of MS by their nurses.
Founder and President of Alisep, Jinan Khairallah, told Annahar that all patients are treated with no discrimination whatsoever, and that “Alisep is for the humanity of MS, regardless of where the patients come from.”
Khairallah further explained that Alisep provides both moral and financial support, as they cover the difference not covered by the social security of sufferers when it comes to medication, treatment, hospitalization, MRI scans, and physiotherapy sessions.
As for moral support, Alisep organizes conferences all along the year to make MS patients and their families more aware of the disease, how to live with it and take care of it. They also organize conferences on neurology, since MS affects the nerve of the eye, and on physiotherapy, so that patients can apply it at home.
In collaboration with Alisep, Sanofi, a global healthcare leader, discovers, develops and distributes therapeutic solutions focused on patients' needs around the world. The two initiatives are both fighting and working to provide better service, support, awareness, and help for MS patients.
Sanofi, a spokesperson and Communications Head Levant Hanane Katerji explained to Annahar, has “many programs that empower the life of MS patients. There’s currently a PSP program, which provides the patients in a support and awareness program, with the new slogan of “MS Strong”, because when we fight your disease together, you are stronger.”
Life is a health journey for patients with MS as Katerji explained, with its ups and downs and its challenges from physical and mental pain, along with the socioeconomic burden caused by disability and subsequent unemployment with high disease activity. The NGOs work with caregivers, healthcare providers and advocacy organizations to better understand the challenges faced by people living with multiple sclerosis.
Khairallah further explained that stigma is another major issue for people with MS. She said: “Many husbands and wives leave their partners for having MS. Some even lose their jobs," adding that the stigma has affected their lives significantly, and even pushed some to hide their disease for a long time.
However, Alisep and Sanofi are both working on enhancing the quality of life of MS patients through their activities, conferences, awareness programs, support, and services.
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