Malawi needs capacity to detect Multiple Sclerosis disease

As Malawi joined the world on Monday to commemorate the World Multiple Sclerosis Day it has been revealed that the South-Eastern nation needs capacity to effectively to deal with the disease.

One of the country’s leading neurologists Professor Macpherson Mallewa says the lack of appropriate diagnostic tools makes it difficult to effectively detect Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a rare chronic central nervous system disability.

Professor Macpherson Mallewa

“Diagnosis is hugely dependent on a well-functioning MRI scanner and a good immunology laboratory which we do not have in Malawi,” said Mallewa, who is also Vice Chancellor of the Kamuzu University of Health Sciences (KUHES).

He noted that in recent years Malawi required to send patients to South Africa to confirm diagnosis.

Malawi will on May 30 join the rest of the world in commemorating Multiple Sclerosis Day under the theme; “Connections”.

The theme aims to raise awareness on the need to integrate people with the condition and end isolation.

As part of the commemorations, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies Roche announced in a statement that it has partnered local patient organisations in Malawi and across Africa to increase awareness and address stigma.

“Roche is working across Africa to build up MS care from the ground up, starting with identifying data gaps, launching clinical trials to understand how MS affects a typical African patient, and developing data registries to analyse these insights,” said the statement.

Roche’s work is complementing the efforts of the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation (MSIF) which has lined up various events to build knowledge around the disease.

“By bringing about massive awareness to reach all people with MS, clinicians and therapists are creating an inclusive support structure and platform to address the burning issues of access to treatment, advocacy, epidemiology and financial support to all people living with this debilitating and incurable disease to never lose hope or feel alone –as we are stronger together,” reads the statement.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), MS deaths in Malawi reached 9 or 0.01 percent in 2020. MS affects one in every 3,000 people in the world, said MSIF.

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