15 Patient Ambassadors Tapped for 2022 World Parkinson Congress

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by Mary Chapman |

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A diverse group of 15 Parkinson’s (PD) patients — all described as “invaluable” advocates — have been appointed as Ambassadors for the 6th World Parkinson Congress (WPC), to be held in Spain in June 2022.

Chosen by the World Parkinson Coalition, these new ambassadors represent 11 countries and, collectively, have more than 100 years of experience living with the neurodegenerative disease. Each has attended at least one WPC.

As activists in the Parkinson’s community, many of the ambassadors have spent years addressing governmental entities, launching nonprofit organizations, spearheading advocacy movements, educating newly diagnosed patients, or fighting for better patient care. Most have long lobbied for more funding for Parkinson’s research, and have sought to raise awareness of the disorder that affects more than 10 million individuals globally.

In their role as ambassadors, the group will promote the international, interdisciplinary forum that will take place June 7-10 in Barcelona. Some 4,500 delegates from more than 60 countries are expected at the event, which offers discussion of the latest PD scientific discoveries, medical practices, and caregiver initiatives.

The goal of the triennial Congress, founded and led by the Coalition, is to advance a comprehensive approach to Parkinson’s treatment by bringing together members of the entire PD community. That includes those from professional medical and scientific organizations, patient services groups, and countries’ governmental health ministries. Also attending will be patients, caregivers, and a broad range of researchers and healthcare professionals.

The forum will include scientific abstract presentations, plenary sessions, special in-depth meetings, roundtable discussions, lectures, and daily wrap-ups. Conference ambassadors play a big role in WPC support.

“We are thrilled with our newest group of Parkinson Ambassadors,” Elizabeth Pollard, WPC executive director, said in a press release.

“Their combined years of living with PD and experience as advocates in their communities gives them incredible insight [into] what is helpful to people with Parkinson’s, and they are great teachers to the researchers who rarely [meet] people with Parkinson’s in person,” Pollard said. “They will be advocates for the WPC while they raise awareness about Parkinson’s around the globe as we count down the months to the 6th World Parkinson Congress.”

Outreach efforts may include talks to local support groups, writing blogs or articles for news outlets, and generally encouraging community members to attend the forum.

One ambassador, Sandra Elms of Australia, is a former science teacher and University College London researcher. She is a big proponent of the international conference.

“Where else can you have the opportunity to sit at a round table with prominent scientists/researchers and have a genuine dialogue,” she said. “Where else will you meet people from all over the world who are doing so much to improve the lives of people with Parkinson’s, where else are you able to meet people with the disease from all over the world and see how they’re coping with their symptoms,” Elms said.

“I have been privileged to be able to go twice to WPC and would strongly encourage others to go,” she added.

A roster of WPC Parkinson Ambassadors and their biographies is available here.

Monitor this site for WPC programming and registration information.