9.5% rise in MS sufferers worldwide
Wednesday 2nd October 2013, 12:11AM BST.
There has been a 9.5% rise in the number of people suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS) worldwide, with 2.3 million now estimated to have the disease.
Experts behind a new study said the jump was most likely due to improvements in the diagnosis and reporting of MS and increased life expectancy, which means more people are living with the condition.
However, they said it also reflects underlying long-term increases in the number of people developing MS.
The research – the Atlas of MS 2013 – was published by the London-based Multiple Sclerosis International Federation (MSIF).
There is no cure for MS, which affects nerves in the brain and spinal cord, causing problems with muscle movement, balance and vision.
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 it.
The study also found the number of neurologists worldwide has increased by 30% and the provision of MRI machines, which are key to early diagnosis and treatment, has doubled in the past five years in emerging countries.
Peer Baneke, chief executive of MSIF, said: “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.
“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.”
The MS Society said its own research in 2009 estimated the prevalence of MS in the UK at 164 per 100,000.
Ed Holloway, head of care and services research at the MS Society, said: “The Atlas of MS is a useful tool in helping us to understand more about how MS affects people worldwide. The more we know, the better equipped we are in ensuring people have fair access to the treatments and services they need.
“For the UK, the Atlas of MS reports on figures previously established by the MS Society in 2009 – but it’s incredibly useful to see these figures in a worldwide context.”