Aiming to spread awareness about MS in the era of the COVID-19 outbreak, ALSEP association for MS patients launched a series of initiatives as part of the #ما_شي_بيوقفك campaign to provide patients with the relevant medical facts and preventive measures, helping them adapt to the current health situation. The initiatives have been sponsored by Merck, a leading science and technology company.
The initiatives began with an online live session on ALSEP’s Facebook page, with the Head of the Neurology Department at Saint Joseph University and Hotel Dieu Hospital, Prof. Halim Abboud, in which questions raised by MS patients were directly answered by Dr. Abboud, who also emphasized the importance of continuing the MS treatment with regular follow-ups with their treating physician to discuss the best treatment options over course of the disease.
Professor Abboud stressed that the recommendations set by the World Health Organization apply to everyone, including MS patients who are equally subject to risks of infection. Hence, it is necessary to follow preventive measures such as: hand washing, social distancing and self-quarantining to avoid any risk of infection.
He also stated that MS treatments have different impacts on the immune system. Immunomodulator treatments, such as interferon are safe to be used and do not impact the immune system; whereas patients who use immunosuppressive treatments must take extra care, by limiting social interactions and minimizing their risks of exposure.
In the case of a COVID-19 infection, patients must discuss the best MS-treatment approach with their neurologist who will give them all of the necessary instructions. Patients who are scheduled to start their treatment for the disease must adopt an option that does not negatively affect their immune system. It may also be possible to postpone prescribed doses of some drugs after consulting with their specialists about the risks and benefits associated with the delay.
Professor Abboud reassured MS patients and urged them not to be anxious, as the infection can be avoided, if the preventive measures are properly followed.
It is worth mentioning that this first initiative was followed by online live sessions with a psychologist and a physical therapist to support MS patients and provide them with all the instructions that guarantee their physical and psychological well-being to help them overcome the current health situation in the best way possible.