The Atlas of MS is the most comprehensive worldwide study of the epidemiology of MS and the global availability and accessibility of resources for people with MS.
In 2022, we contacted countries around the world to check whether they had any new national data. Of those countries who responded to the survey, 31 countries provided us with updated information, and 10 countries shared epidemiology data with us for the first time, including Malawi, the Philippines and Bulgaria.
This means we now have 125 countries covered within the Atlas, representing 91% of the world’s population (up from a total of 87% in 2020). Access the new epidemiology data on the www.atlasofms.org website.
What does the new data show?
For this update, the data that changed in some countries included: prevalence of MS, incidence of MS, and prevalence of pediatric MS.
The data shows there are now an estimated 2.9 million people who are living with MS around the world. Of the countries that provided an update to prevalence data, 30 out of 31 reported an increase in MS prevalence. There are many reasons that might explain this increase.
- In some cases, there are improved surveillance methods. In Spain, for example, the establishment of their EMData project enabled a more accurate calculation of the total number of people with MS in the country.
- Some updates were due to new information coming available, such as in Iran where new epidemiology studies have been published since the last Atlas survey.
- An enhanced ability to diagnose MS can also lead to an increase in reported prevalence, as is the case in Kenya.
- And in countries like Denmark, where there is a MS Register with comprehensive population coverage, it is possible to calculate that the prevalence increase arises from more people with MS being diagnosed per year than dying (i.e. people are living for longer with MS as the overall population ages).
If you need to refer to the number of people with MS globally in any communications, please see our advice here about how to refer to the data.
Although there is variation between countries, there was no overall change to the global incidence of MS, which still stands at 2.1 cases per 100,000 people per year, for the 81 countries that reported this data. This is equivalent to someone in the world being diagnosed with MS every 5 minutes.
We were also pleased to receive data from 8 additional countries about the number of children and young people with MS. This includes Poland, which in 2022 published one of the first studies on pediatric-onset MS in Eastern Europe, based on data from the Polish Multiple Sclerosis Registry. Across the world, at least 30,000 children and teenagers under the age of 18 years are living with MS, although this is likely to be an underestimate due to many countries still being unable to provide data.
During 2022 we also collected data about DMT usage and affordability in different countries. This data is still being analysed, and will be made available through the www.atlasofms.org website soon.
The power of data!
We know that data has the power to persuade hearts and minds. Accurate information about people with MS and MS healthcare can highlight key areas of need, inform policy, and change lives. We hope you will continue to find the up-to-date Atlas data a useful tool to engage stakeholders and decision makers to shine a spotlight on MS in your country.
It is clear that despite the increased number of countries able to submit data to the Atlas, many countries continue to experience difficulties calculating accurate national data on MS. We invite you to watch our webinar to find out how other organisations are filling MS data gaps and advocating for national MS registries.
We would like to thank everyone who reviewed their country’s data in 2022 and provided new information for the Atlas of MS. We know this is not always a simple task, and we are immensely appreciative of your efforts. If you have any new data you would like to share with us, please send an email to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. This data is vital for the work we all do in the MS movement and in ensuring that the Atlas of MS continues to remain a useful tool for people and organisations around the world.