The World Conference of the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation took place in Rome on October 24–28. The event was also to celebrate 50th anniversary of the Italian Multiple Sclerosis Society (AISM).
Day 1 was dedicated to the role of the young people with MS in their regional MS societies. Representatives from 24 countries and all continents joined the workshop, which served as a framework for discussing the issues that are of the ultimate concern for young MS patients.
The highlighted range of issues proved to be common for many countries, the former including fear of social stigma, lack of accessible and relevant information, scarce opportunities for communication in psychologically safe environment, insufficient representation of young people in the boards of MS societies.
The manifesto drawn up in accordance with the findings of the first day, called for expanding the powers of young people in MS organizations, providing them with more opportunities to hold their own educational, cultural and public events, taking into account the interests and needs of modern youth who have completely different experience of living with MS compared to those who were diagnosed 15 or more years ago.
Day 2 (October 25) was devoted to research and treatment updates in relation to the pathogenetic mechanisms in MS. Among the issues emphasized was recognition of the importance of individualized approach in selecting treatment strategies for patients with MS. This is now facilitated by the availability of wide range of first and second line DMTs, the results of numerous studies on the use of drugs previously adopted for curing other diseases, as well as by the increasing amount of information about triggers of the pathogenetic process.
The emerging change in the ultimate goal of using DMTs in patients with RRMS (from reducing the number and severity of relapses to achievement of No Evidence of Disease Activity (NEDA) both in the form of neurological disorders and on MRI) proved to become a new standard of disease management.
On October 26 (Day 3 of the Conference), the participants could benefit from sharing the best practices, skills and activities of MS organizations. In their commitment to promotion of quality and affordability of treatment, further increase of the awareness in public and medical professionals and raise of the profile of MS treatment on an international scale, the representatives of MSIF International Workgroup on Access drafted a proposal to include three DMTs in the WHO Essential Medicine List (Glatiramer Acetate, Fingolimod and Okrelizumab). The revision of the WHO List will take place in 2019.
Further discussions represented interactive training sessions. Parallel sessions, also held on October 25 and 26, focused on specific issues of symptomatic treatment, cognitive impairment, pregnancy with MS, patient involvement in research programs, effective ways to raise public awareness and building online communities for patients.
Days 4 and 5 were entirely devoted to the meetings of the MSIF Board members.
While big events were taking place in Rome, our friends in Israel managed to offer us an access on the web to the “Just the way I am” music video that they had made. The video has some Russian subtitles. But does it need many indeed?
Apparently, Israeli colleagues responded, encouraged by the interest of their Russian counterparts in St. Petersburg.
Due to many reasons, our most international partners had actually to somewhat wait for us to join them at a table to have a more balanced discussion. Therefore, Italians’ welcome for the Russian party was definitely hearty. As was this kind feedback from Israel.
RuMSS Branch in the North-Western Federal District
International Affairs, RuMSS