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Experts warned that the non-availability of medicines for the disease could put its patients in various disabilities.—AFP/File
Experts warned that the non-availability of medicines for the disease could put its patients in various disabilities.—AFP/File

KARACHI: Experts said on Wednesday cases of multiple sclerosis (MS), an inflammatory disease that damages the insulating covers of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, had started surfacing quite frequently and warned that the non-availability of medicines for the disease could put its patients — usually young in age — in various disabilities for the rest of their lives.

“The damage in the insulating covers of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord disrupts the ability of parts of the nervous system to communicate, resulting in a wide range of signs and symptoms, including physical, mental and sometimes psychiatric problems,” said Dr Wasay Shakir, president of the Pakistan Society of Neurology, at a press conference held on the eve of World MS Day at the Karachi Press Club.

He said Pakistan was among the countries where the incidence of the disease was low. However, it manifested more in the country’s chilly northwestern mountainous regions for climatic and genetic factors. Its presence in Asia was more prominent in its central and eastern parts.

Dr Nayla Shahbaz said MS affected young people — between 20 and 40 years — and its detection was becoming routinely normal.

“The disease affects 400 people a year, but as our diagnostic facilities have improved this ratio could be more. The disease is ancient, it has been in our country for centuries but we could only detect it for the first time a decade ago when we got hold of better medical gadgets,” she said.

Dr Shakir said MS took several forms, with new symptoms either occurring in isolated attacks or building up over time. Intermittently, symptoms might go away completely, but permanent neurological problems often occurred.

They spoke about the difficulties patients faced because of the non-availability of medicines for the disease and urged the authorities to take measures to mitigate the problem.

Otherwise, they warned, a patient could become disabled for life if he did not get the required treatment in time. A number of patients, who had not been given treatment, would remain stuck to wheelchairs, in five to 10 years since the first symptoms manifested, they added.

Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2015

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Comments (7) Closed



greg May 28, 2015 09:29am

The photograph at the top of this article has got absolutely nothing to do with multiple sclerosis. The photograph is if culturing bacteria while multiple sclerosis or MS as its commonly called is an inflammatory demyelination of nerve cells.

CYRUS May 28, 2015 12:16pm

We really don't understand why people become victims of MS. In the 1950s there were no drugs to slow the disease and victims' bodies deteriorated quickly. Without the drugs MS will progress rapidly. The prognosis would be two to four years, and people begin to become incapacitated in half that time.

Dr.M.M.Khan May 28, 2015 02:19pm

The incidence of MS is very very low in asian and african countries. As it is mentioned there are no more than 400 cases per year in Pakistan(in a population of 200 million). I live in Scandnavia where it is quite common.Both Genetic predisposition and Cold climate are leading contributing factors. White peolple who have migrated to warmer countries carry this risk with them . There is no cure only symptomatic treatment It would be extremely difficult to diagnose MS in Pakistan.

Thakur Sholey wala May 28, 2015 04:55pm

Who isn't attacking Pakistan........

Adnan May 28, 2015 08:49pm

Great opportunity for investment in related drugs.

Bea May 29, 2015 12:45am

My best friends son who is 19yrs old has recently been diagnosed with MS, because it was diagnosed so early he has been told he can lead a full life he may not have an episode for a few months or even years, he drives a car goes to collage and has not changed his life because of his illness, the problem is in Pakistan the health care service is very poor my friends son had his MRI scan with 5hrs of been admitted to Casualty and seen by a consultant with in the first week, i do not think in Pakistan because of the cost it is mainly not treated early or at all people need to be aware of this illness and what the end result of this can be.

Mian Lahori May 29, 2015 03:25am

@Dr.M.M.Khan

My wife has MS. She is White American. If we move to Pakistan, will that be good for her health ? Please advise