Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a serious and disabling condition, which affects people in early adulthood. It is the second most common cause of disability among central nervous system diseases and epidemiological data suggests that between 3 and 7 people per 100,000 population are newly diagnosed with MS each year. Neurological damage leads to problems with bodily functions, including impairment of muscle coordination, vision and sensation, and also results in cognitive and psychological dysfunction, sleep disorders, fatigue and pain. MS is associated with a high cost of illness, both in terms of direct and indirect costs.
There are therapies, which modify the course of the illness, known as disease modifying treatments (DMTs); that is, their effect is to slow disability and disease progression. However, considerable neurological damage (some of which may be permanent) can occur if PWMS are not given the appropriate treatment early enough. There is increasing focus on finding ways to identify disease progression as early as possible so that treatments can be adapted to prevent or delay further neurological damage.
There is an urgent need to achieve better outcomes for PWMS and the evidence suggests that this is possible if policy makers address the following issues.
This report addresses the significant impact of MS on the health and wellbeing of both people with the disease, and their caregivers, along with its broader socio-economic impact.