While Canada is home to one of the world’s most comprehensive social healthcare systems, it is unfortunately home to one of the largest multiple sclerosis patient populations as well. According to the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, at least 100,000 Canadians have the disease, and at least 20,000 of them live in the province of Quebec alone. Louis Adam, the society’s Executive Director, said drawing more attention and support to this disease should start with further educating the country’s officials and lawmakers.
Earlier this month on October 9th, the MS Society presented 3 priority briefings to the National Assembly. These covered currently available healthcare services for patients with MS, such as:
- Funding for MS clinics, which are at present quite limited
- Potential housing options for largely dependent adult patients
- Public access to available treatments
MS Society spokesperson Jocelyne Cazin explained that multiple sclerosis is currently one of the more complex neurodegenerative diseases prevalent among adults, and that patients and government officials alike should not settle with allowing symptoms to progress until it necessitates moving disabled patients into facilities. Individuals with MS can still be productive members of society if they receive better treatment in the earlier stages of the disease and are taught proper self-management.
Quebec’s Ombudsman mentioned in his last annual report that these MS patients “need flexible service organization that fosters full social participation, which is hard to provide given the organization of care and services in CHSLDs.”
Over the past 3 years, several MS clinics in Quebec expressed concern that their currently available treatments and services have become increasingly outdated and limited, and are in threat of further decline in quality because of implemented budget cuts. Dr. Pierre Grammond, a neurologist and the director of the MS clinic at the Centre de réadaptation en déficience physique Chaudière-Appalaches, said countless studies have proven that proper disease management and positive patient outcomes depend on the quality of care rendered in clinics.
As a result, the Society has forwarded an urgent request to representatives for the formation of terms of reference on this debilitating disease. These new terms would go a long way in making sure the country’s clinics are operating on reasonable budgets that allow room for expansion of services, treatment accessibility, and improvement of care for those with the disease.