A unique, worldwide tool

The Atlas of MS is unique in that it is not a standard review of the published literature, but instead seeks to reach out to every country in the world asking them to provide the most up-to-date information on MS.

The Atlas of MS aims to bring together…

The Atlas of MS aims to bring together all available information on MS epidemiology and healthcare accessibility in an open-source data set. This gives us a more complete understanding of the burden of the disease and provides useful insights on how it varies across the world.

The first Atlas of MS - published in 2008 as a joint project by MSIF and the World Health Organization - was one of the most globally cited resources on MS.

The 2013 edition aimed to update the data and has been used to inform research initiatives as well as for campaigning and advocacy. This 3rd edition is in two parts:

Part 1: Epidemiology

Focused on the number of people with MS, how this varies across the globe, as well as demographic data such as age and gender.

Part 2: Clinical management of MS

Looks at the clinical management of MS and places particular emphasis on the barriers to accessing healthcare and disease modifying treatments

The epidemiology results are available now and the data for clinical management will be available in early 2021

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Methodology

The data for the Atlas has been collated via a large international study with the data collection for epidemiology taking place between September 2019 and March 2020.

What the questionnaire covered

The questionnaire was available in English, French and Spanish and covered the number of people with MS (prevalence), the number newly diagnosed with MS each year (incidence), average age of diagnosis, type of MS at initial diagnosis and national patient registries.

Identifying expert country coordinators

Country coordinators were identified in 138 countries, to be the focal point for gathering the relevant information in each country, making use of all possible sources of information and collaborating with other experts where possible/necessary. Typically, they were representatives from patient organisations, neurologists, epidemiologists or researchers.

Countries that didn’t take part

The remaining nations of the world (80) did not have an identified coordinator or did not agree to participate – these tended to be countries with small populations, without patient organisations or where neurologists could not be identified.

Experts in 115 countries responded to the epidemiology module representing 87% of the world population

Participating countries are highlighted in orange in the map below

Limitations

The Atlas of MS is one of the most accurate global data sources on the epidemiology of MS, but it still has some limitations.

In the majority of countries, the data was provided by a single contact: In spite of these limitations, the data should be still be considered as reasonably, but not completely, reliable and accurate.

Direct comparisons with previous data are difficult: Our global prevalence calculation methods have varied across editions as we strive to improve the accuracy. The number of countries participating varies, as does the proportion of the population covered in each region/income band.

Although there are improvements in the number of countries providing data, there are still significant gaps in our knowledge. We hope that the Atlas of MS will stimulate new and rigorous surveillance within countries and across the globe.

For more information

Please download our full report, other documents and tools or review our Atlas question and answer pages.

Do you have new data for your country?

Get in touch if you have any new data or updates for your country by emailing us at [email protected].