Our story started in 2014 – that’s when the equal access to treatment campaign in Chile began. In 2014, people with MS in the public healthcare system had access to just three of the eight treatments available to those receiving private healthcare.
We lobbied for change and in June 2015 the Government equalised access to treatment for people with MS. This only made the situation worse. Public and private healthcare were now equal in theory, but only three of eight MS medications available were actually accessible to recipients of public health services.
One week after this announcement by the Government, we launched our protest. We organised street demonstrations, contacted the press and sent letters to the authorities. We rallied people with MS and their families together and created a large national network to build support for our demands. Half a year later we secured access to two more MS treatments for all healthcare systems – but we didn’t stop there.
In 2016 we presented our demands in Congress. We wanted equal access and new therapeutic options for people with MS. For almost three years we organised meetings with lawyers, politicians, researchers, with the Ministry of Health, the Treasury and even the Ministry of Justice.
The authorities stopped listening but we made our arguments stronger and our voices louder. We continued our public activities, getting celebrities involved and started social media campaigns. We made our disease visible and we gave a voice to those who were left behind.
In 2019, we were called by the authorities. Our demands for equal access and a dignified healthcare system were heard. In February, the government expanded the ‘Ricarte Soto law’, committing to subsidise all expensive drugs for people with MS. In June, the Treasury announced that it would give everyone with MS in Chile equal access to all available treatments.
Four years on and we finally achieved justice for people living with MS in Chile! It was well worth the wait. Now that we have changed legislation, we are working with local authorities to ensure that people with MS receive quality care across every region. This time we know the secret to success – hard work, a pinch of patience and tons of noise!