CMSC updates core values to more actively address inequalities in care

Unequal care access linked to more severe MS, faster disease progression

Andrea Lobo, PhD avatar

by Andrea Lobo, PhD |

Share this article:

Share article via email
People holding hands and standing on rocks across a stream, to illustrate teamwork and collaboration.

In an effort to improve access to medical care for all people with multiple sclerosis (MS), the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC) has announced new initiatives to address disparities and inequality in MS care.

The consortium is incorporating a new statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) into its core values. The statement recognizes that healthcare services are not equitably distributed across all races, cultures, and socioeconomic groups, and highlights the organization’s dedication to change those inequalities and provide equal access to quality care for all with the neurodegenerative condition.

Unequal access to healthcare services has been linked to more severe disease, faster disease progression, and higher mortality rates, and mostly affects historically underrepresented groups based on race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.

The organization also seeks to increase diversity among those providing care to people with MS, and to contribute to a fair and equitable workplace for healthcare providers.

“It’s not just about raising awareness, but creating new pathways for change,” June Halper, CEO at CMSC, said in a press release from the organization. “Our new DEI statement stresses that we need to put genuine action behind policies and practices that embrace equity as a core value integrated into all our strategies and missions.”

Recommended Reading
banner for

MS news notes: Stem cell therapy, early Aubagio use, DMTs

DEI statement developed by appointed task force in 2022

To address the current inequality issues, the organization plans to start conversations about power, racism, gender, and unequal access among different groups, confront current forms of exclusion and discrimination, redistribute resources to fix the inequalities, and embrace equity as a core value.

“It is necessary to shift from a pattern of passive ambivalence and good intentions to that of positive action,” the statement notes.

The DEI statement was developed by a CMSC-appointed task force in 2022, and was approved by its board of governors at the 2023 CMSC meeting in Florida. It’s being distributed at the organization’s annual meeting May 31 to June 3 in Aurora, Colorado.

The annual meeting is a broad multidisciplinary event that showcases breakthrough research findings and recent advances in MS diagnosis and treatment to members of the MS community.

The task force, together with leading experts on MS healthcare DEI issues, also wrote an article, titled “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Multiple Sclerosis Community: A Call to Action,” outlining key findings on the impact of MS care disparities on disease outcomes.

It also included a survey on key topics affecting those who deliver MS healthcare services. Among those who responded, 66% said they were “somewhat likely” or “very likely” to make meaningful changes to expand access to equitable MS care using CMSC resources.

Published in the International Journal of MS Care, the article is also being distributed at CMSC’s annual meeting.

The CMSC includes more than 250 member centers in the U.S. and Canada, representing at least 13,500 healthcare professionals who provide care for more than 250,000 people with MS. It is dedicated to advancing care for people with MS, providing clinical research and education, and disseminating information to healthcare professionals and patients.