Greater Focus on MS Needed

Greater Focus on MS NeededGreater Focus on MS Needed

The World Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Day is observed on May 27 annually.

The Society for MS support:, the first and only organization targeting people with MS in Iran, was established in 2007 by Seyyed Hassan Babaie. The NGO was founded with the support of charities and the public, besides affected individuals and families, in the absence of specialized healthcare units and support organizations for the disease, reports Salamat News.

The society, which employs MS affected people, seeks to ameliorate the situation in the following areas of MS: education and awareness, and medical, social, and economic services, in addition to providing insurance coverage and employment opportunities.

MS is a long-lasting disease that can affect the brain, spinal cord, and the optic nerves. It can cause problems with vision, balance, muscle control, and other basic body functions. It disrupts the ability of parts of the nervous system to communicate. MS takes several forms, with new symptoms either occurring in isolated attacks (relapsing forms) or building up over time (progressive forms).

  Costly Treatment

Treatment costs are prohibitive and "MS imposes $230 a month on an average, with imported medications ranging from $180 - $6000 (6 million - 200 million rials) per package," said Farideh Abolqasemi, deputy at the society and a MS patient herself.  Besides costly medication, MS sufferers are faced with unemployment due to short-sighted job policies. "Indeed, in some cases MS can lead to physical disabilities. Unfortunately laws and policies that support physically challenged people do not cover MS patients, leaving them in a quandary," Babaie noted.


Attacking the immune system randomly, an affected person may wake up with sudden blindness or blurry vision in one eye lasting for few days to weeks," writes brain and nervous system specialist, Dr. Alireza Yarahmadi in an article in Salamat newspaper. Despite automatic symptom reliefs, new episodic attacks re-occur in another body part at random intervals. There is no known cure for multiple sclerosis. Treatment attempts to help improve motor function after an attack and prevent new ones, and the average annual success rate is 37-60% decline in MS attacks.

 In Iran, approximately 11,000 individuals have submitted their medical files to the society among whom 2,400 are under constant care and support of the NGO. "Despite resource constraints, we have purchased a building for special clinics and rehabilitation departments for MS patients" Abolqasemi said. The plan is currently pending, until necessary funds are forthcoming through public donations.

As of 2008, between 2 and 2.5 million people are affected globally by MS. In 2013, 20,000 people lost their lives to MS, up from 12,000 in 1990. The disease usually begins between the ages of 20 and 50 and is twice as common in women as in men.