A large number of disabled people in Cyprus stay at home because of accessibility issues faced daily, said the Pancyprian Association of People with Multiple Sclerosis yesterday.
Every year, since 2009 the MS movement comes together on the last Wednesday of May to provide the public with information about MS and to raise awareness on how it affects the lives of people around the world.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is one of the most common neurological disorders and causes of disability in young adults. It affects an estimated 2.3 million people worldwide.
Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 25 and 31, with around twice as many women as men diagnosed.
In Cyprus it is estimated that around 1,300 people suffer from the disease, while the number is increasing and is expected to reach 2,000 according to the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics (CING).
Speaking at a press conference, Health Minister Philippos Patsalis said "accessibility is something which influences a person's participation in life to a great extent and plays a decisive role as concerns their social integration. "The Health Ministry recognises this fundamental human right and has set accessibility infrastructure at public hospitals for disabled people as a top priority, taking all necessary measures for their design and implementation," said Patsalis.
He added that the Health Ministry provides services for diagnosis, treatment and prevention for many rare diseases including MS, either through services offered at public hospitals or through funding provided to special medical centres, such as CING.
Concerning treatment of patients, Patsalis said that there are a number of medicines available and treatment choices.
"In the last few years, despite cuts in state funds, the cost for MS medicine has increased, with the ministry spending more than €5.5 million in 2013 and almost €6m in 2014 for MS medicine."
Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou said provisions that concern employment of people with disabilities are today more important than ever.
She said an action plan for the creation and operation of small units for self-employed people with disabilities provide opportunities to find work or create their own businesses with state funding.
This year's Multiple Sclerosis campaign is dedicated to "Accessibility".