A sudden cut-off from medication can severely affect the lives of people with MS. This recently happened to people with MS in the Palestinian Authority – including Ohood, who lives in Ramallah: “In August 2012, during the country’s financial crisis, my medication was cut off and became unavailable at medical centres on the West Bank.”

In these situations, a strong organisation with the right resources and skilled staff/volunteers can advocate on behalf of those affected, provide a platform through which Ohood and other people with MS can speak up for their rights to care and treatment, and potentially help to relieve the financial burden on people with MS.

In light of this, we selected the Palestinian organisation MS Friends Society in Palestine (MSPF) to be part of our three-year capacity building programme in the Arab region. Through mentoring, training, visits and partnership working, the programme aims to develop MS organisations’ capacity and build the skills of their volunteers and staff; enabling them to better respond to the needs of people with MS.

During the three-year programme, we provided MSPF’s voluntary board with mentoring and training in organisational, helping them develop their first strategic plan with input from ten people from the Palestinian MS community. One of the long-term projects identified in MSPF’s strategic plan is to help people with MS access treatment. This will give people like Ohood much-needed support.

We have also helped MSPF to develop their fundraising strategy and write two grant proposals.

In 2015, we coordinated and supported partnership work between MSPF and the Greek MS Society (GMSS). Two representatives from MSPF visited GMSS during World MS Day. They observed the event and attend number of training sessions, during which the GMSS staff shared their experience in fundraising and in designing and providing psychological and social support services.

MSPF board member Saher Kouusa says that they now have a professional road map, with clear goals and mechanisms, in place: “We have solved the mystery of how and what are the mechanisms needed to provide services.”

Woman from Palestine with MS, pictured next to a sign saying 'If this was your daughter, what would you do?'

Ohood, pictured in Palestine next to a sign saying 'If this was your daughter, what would you do?'. Image published here with the kind permission of Wattan News Agency