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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 December, 2003, 12:02 GMT
European backing for MS campaigner
Louise McVay
Louise was 28 when she was diagnosed with MS
The European Parliament has backed the campaign of a UK woman who wants more support for people with multiple sclerosis.

Louise McVay, 31, was diagnosed with the illness three years ago, and started her fight to get better support for patients shortly after that.

Her campaign started with a letter to the European Parliament - and has lead to a personal appearance at a parliamentary meeting in Brussels earlier this year.

The parliament voted in early December to support her plea for better funding and an end to the so-called postcode lottery for treatment.

Citizen with attitude

"The UK didn't listen, but I went to the European Parliament and they listened to 'little me'," she said.

"I was amazed when I got a personal reply from the president of the European Parliament - I was completely gobsmacked."

European Parliament
The European Parliament has supported Louise's campaign

Louise, from Sutton Bonington, Nottinghamshire, who works as a temporary secretary in Loughborough, contributed to a report into MS for the European Parliament.

When she visited Strasbourg in early December, the current European Parliament president Pat Cox said: "You are welcome here ... because you are a citizen with attitude."

The parliament has passed a motion calling for better treatment and research into the disease.

Since she was diagnosed, Louise says she has become more confident and positive.

"I have learnt that if you want to change your life that you have to get out there and do it," she said.

FIGHTING FOR CHANGE
Four million people with MS across Europe
85,000 MS patients in the UK
A successful campaign in the UK has led to the end of rationing of the drug beta interferon

"I think that when you are given your initial diagnosis, you should have access to therapies, benefits and you should be told how to get access to these things."

She has argued that all MS sufferers should have equal access to healthcare, that benefits should be simplified and more international collaboration should be undertaken to look for effective treatments for the disease.

Louise plans to speak at an international conference in Prague in the new year.


WATCH AND LISTEN
Ms campaigner Louise McVay
"They actually listened to little me!"


BBC's Rob Sissons
"You are a citizen with attitude"



SEE ALSO:
Epilepsy drug 'stops MS spasms'
20 Dec 03  |  Health
Fears over MS drug access
12 Jun 03  |  Wales


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