Much speech is one thing, well-timed speech is another - Sophocles
Reaching 8.5 million people around the world, it's fair to say last Friday's 2015 World Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Patient Summit was an amazing success story for the heroes who made this conference a reality.
Not to mention, the social media storm that brewed as the summit became a trending topic on Twitter with #thinkMS surging to become the top healthcare hashtag (#) on Friday.
MS campaigner, Kaz Aston, chaired and moderated the event while also driving the new social media strategy to enable the #thinkMS hashtag to gain positive and high-ranking global results. Aston has lived with MS for over two decades now and says she's always inspired by the people she encounters on her travels.
"The 2015 patient summit was excellent. The focus was all about MS patients and how to best link patient expertise to progress, research, care and community services," Aston proudly states.
Her passion for raising awareness is evident with every word that escapes her mouth as she describes how fantastic it was to see a real mix of all ages involved in the many discussions.
"Sustainable ways to improve MS treatment, the sharing of information with the aid of modern technology such as social media... Everything was up for discussion."
A staggering 2.5 million people around the world suffer with MS and while most are diagnosed between 20 to 40 years of age, roughly three times as many women have been diagnosed with MS as men. At present, both pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical therapies are used to treat the condition because the precise cause of MS remains unknown.
These statistics only serve to further reiterate this summit's importance on a global scale.
"The expert patient discussions were amazing and identified the key resources needed to champion the best practices, to implement new education solutions and to be pro-active in developing common and consistent language at both local and international levels," says Aston.
Key speakers included Dr Vittorio Martinelli (It), Aliki Vrienniou (Gr), Mary Baker (UK), Jean Hardiman-Smith (UK) and Sir Nick Partridge (UK) in addition to Aston.
As you can see, British expertise led the conference as a total of 24 countries were represented with MS impacting the lives of over 55 per cent of the 100 attendees in some way.
Breakout groups focused their discussions on three key areas: Patient rights, the development of health care services and positioning patients as experts.
A number of international charities and organizations were also in attendance, absorbing all of the knowledge and information at play.
It's fitting that we leave Aston to sum up the conference with these powerful words: "The 2015 World MS Patient Summit uncovered what it can really mean to make decisions about MS research, treatment, care and the lifestyle options available if you're a patient... People can navigate their way through changing the current healthcare landscapes to positively influence and campaign for long-term change and improvement."