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Monday, May 7, 2012

Kuwaitis tackle Multiple Sclerosis head on

May 5, 2012

The Kuwait Multiple Sclerosis Association (KMSA) and Kuwait Women Cultural and Social Society (KWCSS) have come together with local experts for a series of educational talks on the neurological disorder, Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Medical experts estimate there are up to 1,400 MS sufferers in Kuwait, many of whom are not fully informed of treatment options and the importance of lifestyle choices that can help reduce symptoms of the disease.

"Most of the MS information on the internet is available only in English, which makes it difficult in predominantly Arabic-speaking populations like Kuwait to keep the patients and public informed - and we are finding more and more that they use blogs and forums with non-approved medical information as the basis for their choices," explained Dr. Raed Al Roughani, Senior Neurology Specialist in Al Amiri Hospital, Kuwait City and leading specialist in the treatment of MS.

"Also we're finding that many people are afraid of being diagnosed with an illness, so while they know that they are exhibiting symptoms that are unusual, they will not go seek a diagnosis out of fear. This is why these talks are so very important," Dr. Al Roughani added. 

"The first educational forum hosted on April 15 with MS patients and their families was a great success. Dr Al Roughani answered questions from patients and their families about the best and latest treatments for MS as well as explaining the importance of psychological care for patients to improve their quality of life - information they all quite desperately needed," said Mona Al Musaireei, Chairman of the KMSA.

The second educational forum that took place yesterday evening focused on the critical importance of MS awareness of patients and primary health care providers, to help diagnose the disease continued Al Musaireei.

"There are up to 1,400 patients in Kuwait with MS and our recent results have shown that about 40% are not fully adherent with their current medication regimen. This is a result of the undesirable side effects of some drugs and also a perceived lack of efficacy - the patients believe that the drug has no effect," said Dr. Al Roughani.

Kuwait's Ministry of Health licensed the world's first oral medication for the relapsing remitting form of MS last year, which affects around two-thirds of those diagnosed with the disease. Local doctors said that this new treatment option would help improve the quality of life and medication for patients in the country.

Existing treatment includes the need for patients to undergo regular injections, which can cause flu-like symptoms for 24 hours and leave red marks on the skin. The new oral treatment would remove the need for these regular injections.

Research figures show MS affects around 25 to 50 people in every 100,000 in Arabic populations and about 100 per 100,000 in Northern Europeans who display the highest risk of MS across the world, with prevalence seeming to increase with further distance from the equator. 

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