At their January 2024 meeting, the MSIF Board awarded MS Vereniging Nederland (the Dutch MS Association) and Multiple Sclerosis South Africa (MSSA) Full and Associate membership respectively, bringing the total number of MSIF members to 50! Read on to learn more about the new members joining the global network.
The MSSA provides emotional support and accurate information to people with MS, their families, friends, and caregivers throughout the country. It endeavours to represent urban as well as rural interests and the different realities of South Africa. In 2023, more than 1,200 people were registered with the organisation from the country’s nine regions.
Led by a voluntary Executive Committee, the MSSA advocates on behalf of the MS community on topics including access to treatment and employment.
It communicates in English and Afrikaans through its website, posts updates and promotes events and activities via its Facebook, Instagram and Twitter channels. Perspectives on how MS affects people across the country can be found in the MS Stories section of the website.
Nine support groups, run by volunteers with and affected by MS operate across the country. These groups run recreational and social activities including online quizzes, competitions and sports challenges. The organisation also runs events to celebrate World MS Day, to mark the Day in 2023 they hosted a picnic on top of Table Mountain!
The MSSA has strong links with MS-related health professionals across the country, who contribute to seminars, webinars and events and in the production of key documentation.
MSIF is proud to welcome the MSSA as an Associate member of our global network. Non Smit, the Director of MSSA shared a few words on their new membership.
‘…The representation of numerous national organizations carries a powerful message – that to end MS, we must unite as one. (MSIF’s) leadership and commitment over the years have been truly commendable, inspiring countless individuals, including myself, to keep pushing forward. I am genuinely excited to embark on this journey as MSSA becomes an Associate member of MSIF. Here’s to a collaborative and impactful journey ahead.’
MS Vereniging Nederland (Dutch MS Association)
Established in October 1992, the Association represents the interests and voices of their 7,660 members and promotes the independence of people with MS and their full participation in society. People with MS are at the heart of the Association through their membership of the Board, participation in MS Advisory boards and panels and leadership of 19 regional working groups.
The Association provides information through its websites, its Facebook, Twitter/X and YouTube channels, meetings and seminars, its MS-telefoon information service and a quarterly magazine – MenSen, sent to around 10,000 people.
Through MSweb, comprehensive, reliable and balanced information about the disease is provided. The site includes a forum for people with MS and also functions as an advocacy platform. Together with other MS organisations, the Association is creating a new website (MS.nl) that will be launched in early 2024.
Locally, the regional working groups provide a variety of services for people affected by MS living in the area. Volunteers involved in the regional working groups also provide peer-to-peer support via telephone and home visits to isolated people with MS.
Within the advocacy sphere, in 2021, as a result of the Association’s collaborative work with the Dutch Society for Neurology, the National Association of MS Nurses, Stichting MS Research (MSIF’s other member organisation in the Netherlands) and Nationaal MS Fonds, fampridine (a drug that can help improve walking ability for some people with MS) was included in the national health insurance scheme with full reimbursement for approximately 2000 people with MS.
MSIF is delighted to welcome MS Vereniging Nederland as a Full member of the global network. President of the Association Jan van Amstel, remarked:
‘…We consider it very important to be part of the worldwide international MS community in order to strengthen our efforts to improve the situation of MS patients. We will be the second Dutch member of MSIF and are looking forward to combining our efforts to support MSIF.’
MSIF looks forward to working closely with both organisations. If you would like to learn more about the process for becoming an MSIF member, click here.