With a population of over 206 million citizens, Nigeria has only about 80 registered neurologists, a disproportionate figure which points to a gross inadequacy of medical specialists with expertise in diagnosing and treating diseases of the brain, spinal cord and nerves.
This was part of the views expressed by experts during a webinar organised by Roche Nigeria in commemoration of World Multiple Sclerosis Day (World MS Day).
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Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic disease that affects the central nervous system, which is the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves.
It causes many different symptoms, including vision loss, pain, fatigue and impaired coordination.
World MS Day is observed on May 30 each year and the theme for this year is, “Connections.”
A consultant neurologist at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Dr Peter Alabi, said approximately 2.8 million people were living with Multiple Sclerosis in the world while 60% of those living with the condition were women.
In Nigeria, he said an estimated 10,048 people were living with MS and that the diagnosis of the condition remained a stress area, with numerous challenges such as limited access to diagnostic tools, serology testing and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
He listed other challenges to include low awareness and limited access to medications required to manage the disease.
The general manager, Roche Nigeria, Dr Ladi Hameed, said the organisation planned to map MS patients’ journey by identifying data gaps and launching clinical trials to understand how MS affects a typical African patient.
He also said the company was willing to collaborate with stakeholders to develop data registries as well as work with MS patient groups within the country to reduce the stigma and increase awareness.