Multiple Sclerosis Society


Johannesburg, South Africa – May 29, 2018 - Roche South Africa, together with the Multiple Sclerosis Society Inland Chapter (MSSA), have collaborated to raise awareness in South Africa in commemoration of World Multiple Sclerosis Day on Wednesday, 30th May. Over 5 000 South Africans are known to be diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS).  

World Multiple Sclerosis Day aims to bring the global plight of MS sufferers to the fore by sharing stories and raising awareness for everyone affected by the disease.  In 2009, the MS International Federation (MSIF) and its members initiated the first World MS Day.  This year the campaign seeks to #bringinguscloser and arms society with research of this disease.  The initiative aims to create positive change and increase global solidarity and hope for the future in the lives of more than 2.3 million MS sufferers globally.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system (CNS). In MS, the immune system attacks nerve cells in the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. It is one disease, but its course and symptoms vary from person to person. MS is commonly diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 401and is twice as likely in women as men2. Approximately 2.3 million or 1 in 3,000 people in the world have MS2. In South Africa, it is estimated that 5000 people suffer from MS3.

People with MS can experience many types of symptoms, which can affect nearly every part of the body and the mind.4

  •  Up to 90% of people with MS experience fatigue.5
  • Within 15 years of onset, more than 50% of people with MS have difficulty walking.4,6,7
  • Vision difficulties are common, and a first symptom in 15-20% of people with MS.8
  •  At least 80% of people with MS experience bladder issues.9
  • Depression is approximately 2 times more likely in people with MS.10
  •  Sleep problems are twice as likely in people with MS.11

Multiple Sclerosis is categorised into different disease courses based on how the disease generally behaves and whether or not there is disease activity and a steady increase in disability over time. The disease courses are Relapsing-Remitting MS, Secondary Progressive MS and Primary Progressive MS.12

A person with MS, endures attacks by the immune system on nerve cells in the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves.13 Disease activity in MS can cause symptoms and disability. Physical disability gets worse when disease activity causes more nerve cells to die.14 People may experience disability in different ways, depending on what part of the brain, spinal cord or optic nerves is affected.15

A diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) can greatly affect employment and career opportunities due to the unpredictability of the disease. As the disease progresses, disability can accumulate, making it more challenging to remain in work.

Typically, MS is diagnosed in young active people between the ages of 20-40 with decades of employment ahead of them.16 Unemployment levels among people with MS are higher than those in the general population. 17 As a result, MS can lead to substantial economic losses for society.17Therefore one of the goals of MS treatment is to control disease activity as early as possible.

The Multiple Sclerosis Society Inland Branch Chapter (MSSA) is a non-profit organisation whose objectives are to provide emotional and practical support to people with Multiple Sclerosis, their families, loved ones and carers, and to facilitate such support from other resources. MSSA is a reliable resource hub pertaining to treatment and research initiatives and results. MSSA also bridges the gaps between patients and medical and para-medical professions. The society extends its services to other auto-immune or neurological disorders.

For more information on MS, visit or contact the MS Society.

For pictures and interviews, contact: [email protected] or call 078 093 9420.

South African Multiple Sclerosis Society – Inland Chapter

Registration Number: 007-909 NPO

Address: Suite G2, The Work Space

140 A Kelvin Drive, Morningside Manor, Sandton

Telephone 011 477 0839 or 011 477 3540

[email protected]


1.     MS International Federation. What is MS? Available at

2.     Multiple Sclerosis International Federation. (2013). Atlas of MS 2013. Available at:

3.     Multiple Sclerosis Society of South Africa Inland Chapter National Institutes of Health-National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (2015). Multiple Sclerosis: Hope Through Research. Available at:

4.     Hemmett L, et al. (2004) What drives quality of life in multiple sclerosis? QJM, 97(10):671–6.

5.     Souza A, et al. (2010) Multiple sclerosis and mobility-related assistive technology: systematic review of the literature. J Rehabil Res Dev, 47:213–223.

6.     National Multiple Sclerosis Society. (2010). Gait or Walking Problems.

Available at:


7.     United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Visual Dysfunction in Multiple

Sclerosis. Available at:


8.     National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Bladder Problems. Available at:

9.     Siegert RJ, Abernethy DA. (2005). Depression in multiple sclerosis: a review. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry, 76:469–475.

10.   Lobentanz IS, et al. (2004). Factors influencing quality of life in multiple sclerosis patients: Disability,depressive mood, fatigue and sleep quality. Acta Neurologica Scandinavica, 110:6–13.

11.   National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Types of MS. Available at

12.   Medline Plus. Multiple Sclerosis. Available at

13.   De Stefano N., et al. Evidence of Axonal Damage in the Early Stages of Multiple Sclerosis and Its Relevance to Disability. Arch Neurol. 2001;58(1):65-70. Available at

14.   National MS Society. MS Symptoms. Available at

15.   MS International Federation. What is MS? Available at

16.   G Giovannoni et al. Brain Health: Time Matters. Accessed July 2017.