TRENTON – A joint resolution sponsored by Senator Fred Madden (D-Gloucester/Camden), that recognizes March as “Multiple Sclerosis Education and Awareness Month” has been signed by Governor Chris Christie.
The designation will help raise the public’s awareness of Multiple Sclerosis, promote an understanding of the scope of the disease, and assist those with MS in making educated decisions about their health care, according to Senator Madden. The National MS Education and Awareness Day is also in March.
“Those suffering from multiple sclerosis endure pain and constant challenges and yet, there is so little we know about the disease,” said Madden, Vice-Chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “An MS Awareness Month will help bring understanding and knowledge to a disease that thousands of New Jersey residents struggle with every day.”
MS is a chronic, unpredictable disease in which myelin, the protective insulation surrounding nerve fibers, is damaged and replaced by scars of hardened sclerotic tissue. The result of this causes interference with the transmission of nerve signals. Common symptoms of MS include fatigue, weakness, spasticity, balance problems, bladder and bowel problems, numbness, vision loss, tremors, and depression.
It is estimated that between 350,000 and 500,000 people in the United States have been diagnosed with MS, and that more than two million individuals live with the disease worldwide. MS is more common in women than in men, and it is most commonly diagnosed in individuals between the ages of 20 and 50.
Senator Madden has been a leading advocate in the Legislature for raising awareness of multiple sclerosis. He was the author of S2122 – legislation that created the New Jersey Multiple Sclerosis Task Force in the Department of Health and Senior Services. The task force, which was instituted after the law passed in January 2012, is charged with developing strategies to identify and address the unmet needs of individuals with MS in order to provide them with greater access to various treatments and other therapeutic options. Senator Madden was also honored as Legislator of the Year by the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society last December.
The resolution was approved by the Assembly in February with a vote of 75-0, and passed the Senate with a vote of 39-0 last week. The resolution takes effect immediately.