By EMSP Executive Committee member & guest author: Patrik Puljić (Croatian MS Society)

Patrik Puljić from Croatia was elected as the young people’s representative to the EMSP Executive Committee during the Annual General Meeting in 2018 in Bratislava, Slovakia.

Patrik is a 26-year-old student living in Zadar, Croatia. He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2011. He participated in the EMSP’s Young People’s conference in 2015 for the first time (in Warsaw, Poland) and then in 2016 (Oslo, Norway). These experiences motivated him to devote his time to advocacy and campaigning in Croatia and in Europe. He was elected as the President of his local MS organization in Zadar in 2016.

Driven by his passion for advocacy, Patrik is dedicated to better understanding of the condition and fighting for the protection of the rights of young people with MS at local, national and European level. In this edition of our Young People’s Network Series, Patrik shares with us how he’s been doing as the representative of young people with MS on EMSP’s Board for the last nine months.

When I received the invitation to run for the position representing young people with MS at EMSP, I was both delighted and very proud. I knew that hard work paid off, but I did not believe that it would happen in such a way. I immediately gathered all the papers and sent it to EMSP. After that, started the long wait for the Annual Conference and the elections in Bratislava. Although I was hoping to win, I did not believe it could happen. Mainly, because Jacobo Santamarta Barral was one of the candidates. He has been doing great advocacy work for young people with MS for the last couple of years. But it happened, I was successfully elected as the young people’s representative on EMSP’s Executive Committee.

Almost a year has passed, and I am even more proud of this accomplishment. It feels great to be part of a movement where people’s rights play such an important role. To learn from experienced people and people who have been part of the MS community for such a long time, is truly priceless. I met a lot of excellent people and made friends for life.

There are a lot of people whom I look up to worth mentioning and praising. I would like to use this chance to commend Emma Rogan whom I work with on improving the lives of young people with MS. We want to improve their quality of life, in every aspect. In order to succeed, the voice of young people must be heard & their representatives should participate in EMSP work. We are currently preparing the last details for EMSP’s next annual conference. I am very happy to work with her because she is a person who will always do her best to help you whether it is about your private life or business! She has so much experience in working with MS as well as understanding and determining further action.

I am pretty sure that working with EMSP and the energy coming out of the movement has helped my personal growth and my health. I got rid of all my fears and got access to a lot of information related to MS that eased my perception of MS. I can now live my life to the fullest.  The work I have been doing with EMSP has also greatly contributed to support my professional life.

The first ones who noticed this, were the people from my local association who have given me the chance to represent the local community. I want to live in a city that will know everything about MS. The people from my local community are working very hard for a better quality of life for people with MS. More than a job, they are wholeheartedly committed to create a better place. My activity at European level was not just recognized by the people from the MS community, but also by my friends, colleagues and professors. Zadar is a small city which recognizes and appreciates quality work, therefore I am very happy to be part of the EMSP team while living in Zadar.

There is a lot of room for improvement in Croatia as well as in the MS world. Still many questions remain unanswered: questions related to the Ministry of Health, hospitals, rehabilitation and medicine. There is a small shift towards a better life.

The situation is not much better in other Balkan countries. The Balkan countries come across different problems, from various diagnosis criterion to difficulties in accessing to treatments and therapies, including long waiting time for MRI scans. In the meantime, people diagnosed with MS and especially young people are suffering.

Fortunately, new alliances are being built by existing actors in the field to address the unmet needs. In my opinion, these new alliances can improve the situation – we can achieve everything, if we work together.

I believe that the voices of young people need to be heard because they can change the world. I am firmly convinced that by working together in our countries we can challenge politicians and the governments to implement changes. We will change the whole Balkan area!

EMSP is doing great things in various fields for and with people with MS. Different projects have focused on employment, a key issue for young people. I hope that one day, EMSP will organise a youth conference in Croatia. We are ready for it and I believe that we have a lot to offer. I will be extremely happy and proud when this will happen.


Croatian MS Society (SDMSH)

If you would like to connect with the work of Patrik, please email emma.rogan@emsp.org