The Kuwaiti MS Association organised the first Gulf MS forum on 1 February, with the aim of exchanging information between MS organisations in the region.
The event brought together MS organisations from six countries as well as key dignitaries, all under the auspices of Mr Faraj Zabin Alarabeed.
According to the data supplied for the Atlas of MS 2013, there are an estimated 12,234 people living with MS in the six Gulf countries of Kuwait, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman.
The event ended with agreement of a set of suggestions and recommendations.
Suggestions agreed at the forum:
- The first week of November each year will be the Week of MS in the Gulf region
- Unify the name used to describe MS to be التصلب العصبي المتعدد Multiple Sclerosis
- Establish a union for MS organisations, the Gulf Union for People with MS
- Hold the second Gulf MS Forum in UAE in February 2016.
Peer Baneke, CEO of the MS International Federation, sent a video message congratulating MS organisations in Gulf on this initiative. He said: ‘It is fantastic to see people with MS, people affected by MS, MS organisations and professionals come together to share information and find ways of working together and fighting this disease’.
Other recommendations made during the forum were to:
- Print unified brochures about MS for Gulf countries
- Request the establishment of a national database for Gulf Cooperation Council countries for the number of people with MS
- Request establishing MS specialised health centres to include ophthalmology, physiotherapy, nutrition, psychological support and scientific research
- Try to provide treatment for immigrants and people who do not have the means of covering the cost of treatment in the Gulf
- Provide medical equipment to patients with different types of disability
- Request leave for employees and students in schools and universities when they have strong relapses.
Taking part in the forum were representatives from the Kuwaiti MS Association, UAE MS Support Group, Bahrain MS Patient Society, Saudi MS Advisory Group, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Qatar and an MS activist from Oman.
The event was attended by Dr Tareq Elshati, the General Manager of the General Authority of People with Disability; Elshiekha/ Shiekha Abdullah El-Sabah, honorary president of the People with Disability Club; Skhiekha/ Anisa El-Salman El-Sabah; and MS specialists from the Gulf.