Multiple Sclerosis International Federation’s (MSIF) Head of International Fundraising Luke Thomas is spending World MS Day in China. After two years of engagement with the Chinese MS communities, MSIF is currently working with a Beijing-based organisation, the China Organization for Rare Disorders (CORD – www.hanjianbing.org/), to build on this groundwork to find and inspire people to take the MS movement in China forwards.

Here’s Luke’s report:


Monday 26 May

I landed in Beijing at 8pm local time on Monday evening. I was pretty tired having travelled for 17 hours to get here via Hong Kong.

Tuesday 27 May
Daniel Alberman, MSIF’s Consultant working on the China Programme, and I set off to attend an event organised by a local MS group – MS Home (www.mszj.com) – which has recently been founded by a dynamic pair of young people who both have MS, Yu Lei and Gao Wen.

The event was an opportunity for people with MS to meet experts in the field of MS and ask questions about the condition. A physiotherapist gave an excellent demonstration of the power of rehabilitation and the audience were very impressed by his demonstration of how to improve someone’s balance by modifying their walk. Other guests included one of China’s most eminent neurologists and other experts in the field of MS treatment.

The Q&A session was very lively and provided an insight into some of the local considerations for people with MS such as the issue of traditional Chinese medicine. The media covering the event is reminded me how important it is that the MS community has access to the best available information from people it can trust.

World MS Day – 28 May

I hired a bike from the hotel and cycled to the art district in North East Beijing.

I arrived at the Yue Art Museum to find dozens of people and a few journalists already gathered for the World MS Day event organised by MS Home. Huang Rufang, CORD President, spoke about CORD’s activities, along with a few other leading figures. I was asked to say a few words from MSIF and stressed how proud and excited we are to be attending a World MS Day event organised by a new local MS group. The energy at the event was undeniable and it was exciting to be a small part of it.

A local band performed and we were treated to an appearance by the famous performance artist Han Bing followed by a chance for all of us to contribute to a piece of art with our own very scribbling!

It was baking hot but a wonderful day and an opportunity for me to meet the growing Chinese MS community. World MS Day is a chance for people with MS to come together, share experiences and raise awareness and this has definitely been a big part of today. I hope that next time I am in Beijing I can tell you more about how these groups are giving people with MS in China hope of a brighter future.