And suddenly Europe showed what unites us


Author: Pedro Carrascal, EMSP President

“In organisations such as the European Multiple Sclerosis Platform (EMSP) we have always been clear about the inestimable value of being united in representing the voice of people, especially towards the European institutions whose decisions impact the future of people affected by MS in Europe.

In recent times, the legitimacy of the European Union itself has been strongly challenged, perceived as remote from the concerns of people in the Member States. This perception – that what happens at the European level is far from home, in other countries – has been strongly present. At EMSP, we have dealt with issues of vital importance for people with multiple sclerosis in Europe, such as equity, access to treatment and care, health policies, participation in decision making. In March 2020, we have all been struck down by the global pandemic, now followed by the war in Ukraine.

The tragic impact of the COVID19 on the lives of millions of individuals around the world and in our close community, added to the anxiety of facing an unknown virus with unpredictable consequences turned fear into action. It is with emotion that I remember the first coordination webinar between European countries held by EMSP during spring 2020 where we shared the reality of each country and discussed how to face the situation. Many organisations mentioned the importance of those moments and what it meant to them.

As we are still recovering from the last wave of the pandemic, Europe is hit again, this time by the war in Ukraine. Right now, I have a much stronger feeling that we are closer than ever, that Europe is suddenly not so big, nor are we so distant from each other. It feels like the threats and tragedy being experienced in Ukraine are happening in the street next to our house and that we must all react. It is inspiring to see how MS associations from countries on the borders of Ukraine, and others not so close, are turning up to help the Ukrainian community of people with MS who have left the country fleeing the war as well as those who remain there.

If Europe has always made sense, if organisations like the EMSP make sense, these moments of bewilderment, fear, horror, solidarity, and determination to face this situation together show us the value of community and the importance of supporting each other.

It is our duty, so we have begun to take actions, to “stitch” Europe and stand closely together in the face of this crisis as the great community of people affected by MS that we are.”

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