Four volunteers from MS organisations in Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan took part in a three-day training course on counselling people with MS in October.
The need for the course was identified by a focus group involving people with MS. They identified a series of challenges in their lives, including:
• disclosing MS to partners, family members, friends and employers without the support of health professionals
• a lack of public awareness of MS, often leading to relationship problems
Georges from Tripoli, who is living with MS, highlighted this when he said: ‘My girlfriend said it was better to end our relationship. She was afraid of being infected although I had explained she would not be. There is no awareness.’
The training gave the volunteers a variety of tools for counselling individuals and groups with MS in their own countries. Topics included how to help people disclose their MS with friends, families and employers, and how to help people with MS manage their symptoms in day to day life.
The volunteers are now working with their MS organisations to develop counselling services in Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan. They will also share their learning with other volunteers.
Hala Choueiri from the Society of Lebanese Friends of Patients with Multiple Sclerosis (ALSEP) said: ‘The trainer explained the ideas clearly. In additions she gave us materials to help us train other people in our country.’