24 December 2020
This year has been a tough year for many and the stress and anxiety of living through the pandemic has been particularly difficult for many people living with MS. I know many of you will be glad to see 2020 draw to a close and are feeling optimistic about what 2021 might bring.
Despite the challenges the pandemic brought, our MS organisations in Australia still managed major achievements in 2020 - record levels of funding for MS research, involvement in major campaigns and inquiries to improves the lives of people with MS, support for more MS treatments in development and being brought to market, our service and support organisations successfully pivoting to delivery by phone, web, video and “tele-health” style arrangements, are just some examples.
With a large number of people with MS taking immune modulating therapies, the emergence of the novel coronavirus did cause a lot of concern. The Board acted quickly to approve $100,000 to enable Australian researchers to participate in an international data collaboration capturing information regarding COVID-19 and its impact on people with MS globally. This helped generate evidence-based guidelines for people with MS and their health care teams.
Especially pleasing was the detailed, helpful information provided on MS Australia’s “COVID-19 and MS” webpage throughout the pandemic, following advice from MS experts in Australia and overseas. This advice is being updated as more information becomes available from our international colleagues regarding the impact of vaccine roll-out overseas on people with MS.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues who serve on the MS Australia and MS Research Australia Boards. This year we have made a number of changes to our governance arrangements to more closely align the directions of these two partner organisations and build on the excellent achievements of the past. I thank current and former Board members for their contribution to these significant outcomes.
On behalf of the Board, I would also like to acknowledge the hard work and strong leadership of both Deidre Mackechnie the outgoing CEO of MS Australia and John Blewonski who has been Acting CEO of MS Research Australia and extend our gratitude for their significant contributions to the MS community.
Thankyou to all of the staff and volunteers of MS Research Australia and MS Australia for your dedication and service throughout the challenges of 2020, and for maintaining such a positive and caring outlook focused on serving the needs of the MS community in Australia.
Just a few weeks ago I announced the appointment of Mr Rohan Greenland as CEO of MS Australia. I am sure you will join me in welcoming him to the MS family of organisations and like me, look forward to his leadership through the next exciting phase of advancing the MS Australia mission.
I wish everyone a safe and happy festive season and look forward to setting out our ambitious plans for the future and connecting with everyone in 2021!
Associate Professor Des Graham
MS Research Australia