Major study shows ms is a global disease

Major study shows ms is a global disease

The results of the largest global study ever undertaken on multiple sclerosis that investigated the spread, cost and resources to treat the disease in 112 countries covering 88 per cent of the world's population were presented on Wednesday 17th September in MOntreal, Canada at the World Congress on Treatment and Research in MS.

The study took three years and the report, which is published by the World Health Organization (WHO) is titled Atlas Multiple Sclerosis Resources in the World 2008, or Atlas - MS for short. It was a joint effort by the WHO and the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation (MSIF).

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a common neurological disorder and major cause of disability in young adults. While a some people with MS do not experience much disability during their lifetime, more than half will not be walking properly or at all 20 years after onset. The disease seriously impacts quality of life and is a major financial burden on society.

While the causes of MS are still a mystery, as is why it should affect women more than men, the Atlas of MS suggests there are more people living with the disease worldwide than the current estimate of 1.3 million.

The main message from the Atlas is that governments should put more money into education about MS and into services to support and improve quality of life for people with MS. The situation is most acute in the majority of low and middle income countries.

Alan Thompson, Chairman of the International Medical and Scientific Board of the MSIF, and professor at the Institute of Neurology in the UK, said:

"The Atlas is about making people aware of MS and the needs of people with MS. People with MS have complex needs and at the moment these are not being adequately met anywhere in the world."

The Atlas of MS includes information on: prevalence, incidence and total numbers of people with MS by country, average age of onset, and gender; MS organisations; resources for diagnosing, supporting and treating MS patients; medications; human resources; and where MS patients stand with respect to the law, social insurance and disability entitlements.

The investigators found that:

  • None of the countries covered by the survey was free of MS.
  • Across the world there are about 30 people in every 100,000 who have been diagnosed with MS.
  • People living further north and south of the equator are more likely to have MS.
  • The total estimated number of people diagnosed with MS across the world is 1.3 million, but the real number is likely to be much higher because some countries do not keep records on MS.
  • Most people with MS start getting symptoms when they are between 25 and 31 years of age.
  • There are twice as many women, or more, with MS than men.
The Atlas highlights the large disparities among countries with respect to MS surveillance, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation, for example availability of equipment like MRI scanners is highly varied, as it treatment and therapy to alleviate symptoms and change the course of the disease.

The investigators recommended, among other things that governments use the Atlas of MS to:

  • Implement policies that eliminate the information gap in public awareness of MS, especially among employers and health care professionals.
  • Buy more diagnostic equipment and fund rehabilitation and research.
  • Strengthen social support for people with MS and help them find meaningful and productive jobs.
Peer Baneke, CEO of MSIF said:

"If governments act on the recommendations in the Atlas of MS they have it in their power to significantly improve the quality of life of people affected by MS."

"Atlas Multiple Sclerosis Resources in the World 2008."

World Health Organization.

ISBN-13 9789241563758

ISBN-10 9241563753

September 2008, currently in press

Click here to order a printed version from WHO.

Click here for links to view full report (56 pages) or summary in PDF on MSIF website.

Source: MSIF, WHO.

What Is Multiple Sclerosis? (Video Medical And Professional 2018).

Section Issues On Medicine: Disease