People with multiple sclerosis ask Blair to keep his promise
Sunday 15 October 2000
A group of people with multiple sclerosis (MS), their friends and families will be taking part in the ITV Walk of Promise on Sunday to remind Tony Blair of his promise to people with MS.
They will carry banners that read 'Tony Blair! Keep your promise to people with multiple sclerosis' and 'Don't ban the drugs we need', and will hand leaflets to passers-by.
They will be accompanied along the 4-mile route from King Stairs Gardens to Bernie Spain Gardens by Paseo Malanga, the Hackney-based Cuban street band who will entertain the crowds with thundering Paseo drums and bells.
MS is a devastating life-long disease causing attacks that can leave people paralysed, blind or with other serious disabilities. It can end careers and destroy family lives.
The Prime Minister says he wants an NHS 'based on need, not ability to pay', but he is about to break this promise for people with Multiple Sclerosis, by making Beta Interferon and Glatiramer Acetate, the only drugs that can reduce the frequency and severity of frightening and unpredictable MS attacks, unavailable on the NHS.
The Government says these drugs have 'only modest benefit'. However, an MS Society survey has shown that 90% of MS specialists disagree, and would prescribe the drugs given the choice. The drugs are widely available in other countries and people using them report enormous reductions in the frequency and severity of MS attacks.
The cost of the drugs is extremely modest compared to the amount of money the Government recently spent on the Millennium Dome, but the Government has made it clear that it feels that people with MS are not worth treating, and that money is better spent on tourist attractions that few people wish to visit.
Julie Howell (29), is creator of Jooly's Joint, an award-winning, internet-based community of people with multiple sclerosis. Julie used the Internet to organise her team for Sunday's walk.
Julie said "Many of our friends could not join us on the Walk of Promise today because they are too ill to leave home. Access to these drugs may mean they will be well enough to join us next time. By banning our drugs the Government is implying that people with MS have nothing to offer. The ITV Walk of Promise gives us the opportunity to remind Tony Blair of his promise to us. We will be alerting the public to the devastation we will face if MS drugs are banned."
For further information, contact Julie Howell at Julie@mswebpals.org.
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