The Atlas of MS [PDF, 3MB] is the most extensive worldwide study of the epidemiology of MS and the global availability and accessibility of resources for people with MS.

In September 2008, the MS International Federation and the World Health Organization (WHO) published Atlas: Multiple Sclerosis Resources in the World 2008.

This marked the culmination of a ground-breaking three-year global project which gathered data from 112 countries representing more than 85% of the world’s population.

In addition to the published report, the MS International Federation developed the first Atlas of MS website, which enabled users to query the data online, and to compare results across different regions and countries.

In 2012/2013 the MS International Federation carried out a second survey in order to update the information in the Atlas. This was published as an Atlas of MS, and the 2013 data was added to the 2008 information on the website.

What is the Atlas for?

The updated Atlas of MS covers three key themes: the epidemiology of MS, the resources available to diagnose and treat the disease, and the support available to people with MS in 124 countries around the world.

The main aims of the Atlas are to:

  • stimulate additional systematic data gathering, particularly data on the epidemiology of MS
  • highlight gaps in resources and services
  • encourage the development of much-needed policy, services and training.

What are its main findings?

The Atlas of MS 2013 shows:

  • The estimated number of people with MS in the world has increased to 2.3 million (up 9.5% from the 2008 survey)
  • That women are twice as likely to have MS as men, although in some countries women are three times as likely to have MS
  • Up to 5% of people with MS develop it before the age of 18, and the new Atlas of MS provides data on the prevalence of MS in children
  • The number of neurologists worldwide has increased by 30% and the provision of MRI machines, which are key to early diagnosis and treatment of MS, has doubled in the past 5 years in emerging countries
  • Disease-modifying therapies for MS are partly or fully funded by governments in 96% of high income countries, but funding drops to zero in low income countries.

Recommended actions

The MS International Federation calls on policy makers, health professionals and MS organisations to make use of the data in the Atlas of MS 2013 to:

  • Raise awareness and understanding of MS among the general public, employers and health care professionals
  • Support MS organisations and patient groups, by investing in them and developing their capacity
  • Work together to make treatments more affordable, either directly or through wider reimbursement by insurance or government.

The Atlas of MS 2013 has been translated into several languages. You will need Acrobat Reader to view these documents.

Watch the Atlas of MS video