MS (multiple sclerosis) is a chronic neurodegenerative disease, in which a person’s immune system targets healthy nerves. It is an unpredictable disease that each person will experience differently, but common symptoms often include pain, fatigue, reduced mobility and cognitive dysfunction.
The cause of MS is unknown and there is currently no cure. Most people receive a diagnosis between the ages of 20 and 40. Following diagnosis, management of MS focuses on reducing disease progression with treatment, managing symptoms and rehabilitation, to maintain quality of life and neurological function.
In 2008, the European MS Platform launched the MS Barometer to address knowledge gaps in MS management. In 2020, its sixth edition surveyed 36 national MS societies in 35 European countries and found that the quality of care received by people with MS is inadequate, with serious disparities across Europe.
Rates of treatment with disease-modifying drugs vary widely, ranging from 90% in Lithuania, Malta and Switzerland to just 12% in Serbia and 10% in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Availability of treatments to manage symptoms is even lower. Meanwhile, fewer than half of Europeans with MS have access to rehabilitation, and many face significant barriers to joining and staying in the workplace.
The MS Barometer 2020 makes several recommendations to reduce the identified gaps in care and champion evidence-based policies that will improve the lives of all people with MS. The report is accompanied by 35 factsheets analysing MS care in 35 European countries.