REGINA – May is multiple sclerosis awareness month. It is a disease that affects thousands of Saskatchewan residents, but Saskatchewan is the only province in Canada without an MS specialist.
President of MS Society’s Saskatchewan and Manitoba divisions, Erin Kuan, was at the legislature Tuesday to pin carnations on politicians. The flowers adorned every MLA’s chest during Question Period.
“We have an estimated number of about 3500-3700 people living with MS in the province. I’d say the prairies have the highest incident rate in Canada, but… Canada has the highest incident rate in the world,” Kuan said.
The MS Society of Canada, along with the provincial government, is working to change that.
Earlier this year, an 11-person multiple sclerosis advisory panel submitted their recommendations to improve MS patient care.
READ MORE: Province names advisory panel for MS research
Among the recommendations:
– the establishment of an advisory council on degenerative neurological diseases.
– a registry of Saskatchewan people diagnosed with MS
– the recruitment of more clinicians
– provide ongoing funding for a multidisciplinary care team, research leader and research support services
So far, the government has committed to the council and the registry.
In 2011, the province made headlines for its plan to send patients to Albany, New York, to try an experimental and controversial treatment of MS that was showing promise.
$2.2 million was committed for 87 patients to receive the treatment. The plan fell through though, when the American clinic said it didn’t have enough volunteers.
READ MORE: MS liberation therapy clinical trial for Sask. patients cancelled
Health Minister Duncan said if an advisory council was in place at the time, there could have been a different outcome.
“Not to say that we regret as a government that we did try to take part in the Albany trials… but I think [the advisory council] will provide maybe a more fulsome view of some opportunities that may present themselves in the future,” he said.
While the government is acting on two of the recommendations, Duncan couldn’t go into details about funding with the budget just around the corner.