MS Society endorses new theory
WINNIPEG -- A big announcement from the national MS Society could mean the tide is turning for supporters of a hot-button new theory on multiple sclerosis.
On Wednesday, the MS Society of Canada announced it will lobby the Canadian government to channel $10 million into researching a link between blocked veins in the head and neck -- a condition dubbed chronic cerebrospinal venous insuffiency, or CCSVI -- and MS.
"The MS community has spoken. They want access to diagnostics and treatment for CCSVI in Canada," said Linda Lumsden, chair of the national board of directors for the MS Society.
The announcement came on the same day that thousands of supporters rallied at government buildings across Canada to demand increased access to research, testing and treatment for CCSVI. In Winnipeg, members of the grassroots advocacy group CCSVI Manitoba returned from an afternoon rally at the provincial legislature to discover the MS Society's announcement.
"This is extremely exciting," said Nicole Boyd-Benes, who helped organize the rally. "This is what we've been pushing for since we got this organization together. Finally, it feels like we've been heard and that the MS Society is listening to us. I finally feel like I'm supported... now I hope it follows through!"
Lumsden will meet today with federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq to formally request $10 million in CCSVI research funding, to be directed to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Previously, the MS Society had opened a competition for funding proposals for CCSVI research. The successful proposals will be announced in June.
Critics have sometimes characterized the MS Society's response to CCSVI research as sluggish. Meanwhile, many Canadians have taken matters into their own hands, spending tens of thousands of dollars to travel to a clinics in Poland and India to get their veins opened by balloon angioplasty in the hope of relieving MS symptoms.
"The safety and health of people living with MS is our primary concern," Yves Savoie, president and CEO of the MS Society, said in a statement on Wednesday. "The Government of Canada can play a leadership role in addressing the needs of Canadians living with MS by funding research, including clinical trials in CCSVI and MS. Doing so will both advance research and provide safeguards to those seeking treatment."
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