About the Under Pressure Project

The Under Pressure project is part of EMSP’s commitment to address health policy needs and inequalities in Europe. Multiple sclerosis affects each individual in a unique way and this reinforces the need for treatment to be more and more personalised and patient-centered. Increasing understanding of the importance of quality of life issues reinforces the recognition that people with MS should have the chance to enjoy a full life and participate in their communities.

Over the past twenty years, EMSP has worked together with its member organisations in representing the interests of people with MS. Achievements include a European Parliament Resolution on a European Code of Best Practice in 2003: all people with MS throughout Europe should have equal rights and access to treatment, therapies and services.

EMSP's ongoing project – the MS Barometer, reviews countries' policies on a bi-annual basis, based on data provided by 25 national societies (in 2013). Regrettably, the latest edition of MS Barometer in 2013 shows that not enough progress has been achieved over the past years. Since 2008, austerity measures have had an increasing impact on health costs and in some countries the conditions for people with MS are getting worse rather than better. This adds to the relentless pressure which comes from a having a disease that attacks the central nervous system and that has an unpredictable course. As a major cause of disability in young adults, MS creates a tremendous burden not only on the individuals themselves, but also on their families and in their communities.

Under Pressure has been designed to illustrate the European state of play using powerful and evocative images. Through a photo exhibition, a booklet, video documentaries and this website, Under Pressure communicates the experience of living with MS not only in a personal way, but also in a political way.

The project is an initiative to boost awareness and support advocacy activities. As a first tangible achievement, a Written Declaration was signed by hundreds of Members of the European Parliament. Triggered by an Under Pressure exhibition hosted by the same institution, the declaration calls for better research, equal access to treatment, more flexible employment policies and enhanced quality of care. This was a reaction to the fact that unacceptable disparities between countries can serve to deny people the much needed chances.

There are many who have shown great commitment and have ensured through their contributions the successful development and completion of this project. Amongst them: Marilyn Smith as originator of the concept; Carlos Spottorno as creative director and lead photographer; a marvelous team of artists producing photo and video footage; our partners in the European institutions, research and industry; national MS societies across Europe and, most importantly, people with MS and their carers who had the courage to tell their personal stories.