New report shows MS more prevalent than previously thought

The Atlas of MS 2013, published on 2 October 2013, shows that the reported occurrence of multiple sclerosis (MS) has increased by nearly 10% globally. The Atlas, the most extensive worldwide survey of the disease, provides a clearer picture of MS around the world and how it is being diagnosed and treated.

The Atlas is available both as aprinted report and asa website.

The Atlas shows there are more people with MS around the world than previously estimated and that, in low income countries, there is no government funding for drugs to treat MS.

However, there has been a big increase in medical personnel who can diagnose and help people manage their MS. In addition, the provision of MRI machines to carry out scans has doubled in emerging countries.

The Atlas of MS 2013 shows:

1.    The estimated number of people with MS in the world has increased to 2.3 million (up 9.5% from the 2008 survey).

2.    The report confirms that women are twice as likely to have MS as men, although in some countries women are three times as likely to have MS.

3.    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.

4.    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.

5.    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.

“With this new edition of the Atlas of MS, we now have a much clearer picture of where the gaps are and where improvements have been made in the battle to diagnose and treat this debilitating disease,” said Peer Baneke, CEO of MSIF. 

“What is obvious is that inequalities exist not only between developed and emerging countries, but within countries themselves. For example, a recent UK MS Society report shows the extent of inequalities in the treatment and care of people with MS in the UK.” 

“However we are convinced that the Atlas of MS is helping raise awareness of the disease in areas of the world where it has often been under-diagnosed. We are particularly heartened to see a 40% rise in resources aimed at diagnosing and treating people with MS in the Arabic-speaking world since our last survey,” he said.

Professor Alan Thompson, Dean of the UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences and Chairman of MSIF's International Medical and Scientific Board, said: “Capturing the enormity of the global impact of MS clearly and accurately is essential if we are to improve management of the disease and reduce disability. Nowhere is this more relevant than for those with Progressive MS, for whom the lack of effective treatments and the steady deterioration in abilities is particularly challenging."

"The Atlas will help drive developments in these areas and provide a useful platform for the recently formed Progressive MS Alliance - a global network of MS societies, researchers and others," he said.

The Atlas of MS 2013 calls on policy makers, health professionals and MS organisations to make use of the latest data to ensure improved diagnosis, treatment and information and resources are available to all, regardless of where they live.

Download the report.

Go to the Atlas of MS website.

Watch a short video.