Multiple sclerosis still not diagnosable
LAHORE: A lack of research and the unavailability of advanced machinery are major reasons that multiple sclerosis (MS), a neurological syndrome, discovered in the 15th century and documented in the 19th, cannot be diagnosed in Pakistan even though a large number of people suffer from the disease.
This was said by neurologists and several other speakers at a meeting organised by the Multiple Sclerosis Research and Patient Welfare Trust’s (MSR&PWT) Lahore wing in Pakistan at a local hotel on Sunday. The trust has been launched by a group of doctors to create awareness of the disorder.
Punjab Finance Minister Sardar Hasnain Bahadar Drishak was the chief guest and eminent neurologist Professor Dr Munawar Hayat was the guest of honour. MSR&PWT President Dr Shaukat Ali, General Secretary Dr Amir Ikram and Dr Awais e Siraj addressed the meeting.
According to the neurologists, the disease is a neurological disorder that affects the central nervous system, like the brain and the spinal cord, of the human body. In MS, the body’s defence system attacks its own nerves leading to the deterioration of the myelin sheath, that protects nerve fibres of the brain and spinal cord, by distorting nerve impulses. The process is based on a deregulation of the immune system that normally defends the body against infection.
Dr Ali said MS symptoms usually begin to appear between the ages of 20 and 40, he said, adding that MS symptoms vary greatly and usually include impaired vision, poor-coordination, speech difficulties, limb weakness, unusual fatigue, muscle cramps, tingling sensations, memory and concentration problems, pain, seizures, vomiting, nausea, vertigo, deafness, problems with bowel and sexual dysfunction that lead to a state where ordinary tasks cannot be performed.
Dr Ali said MS could devastate lives. About 85 percent of MS patients start with the relapsing remitting course of the disease and then attacks followed by a period of remission, which leave a majority of patients disabled over time, he said. He said it was impossible to accurately predict the course of MS for any individual. Dr Ali said that a larger percentage of people were severely affected by the disease and could not lead normal and productive lives after 10 to 15 years.
Dr Siraj said the trust’s objectives were: to conduct primary scientific research on MS in order to collect data on patients in Pakistan; to develop a database to provide the administrative infrastructure for the development of academic research on the recent developments of MS throughout the world.