(MENAFN Press) Kuwait City, Kuwait
Neurology experts from across the Gulf will descend on Kuwait this weekend as part of the bi-annual GCC neurology congress, where speakers and attendees are set to tackle challenges around neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis (MS), stroke, epilepsy and more.
As many as 150 local and regional doctors and health care practitioners are expected to attend the neurology congress this weekend, according to President of the Kuwait Neurology Society (KNS) Dr. Abdulaziz Ashkanani.
"Every two years the GCC countries come together in order to exchange knowledge and best practice, to remain at the forefront of diagnosis and treatment for neurological disorders in the Gulf “ it's imperative that we share information and keep ahead of new data to ensure the best possible outcomes for our patients," said Dr Ashkanani.
Neurologists within the Gulf are limited, with only a handful of neurologists in each of the GCC countries according to Dr Khalid Al Hassan, Specialist Neurologist at Al Amiri Hospital and Vice President of the KNS, so the cross-institutional, regional approach is important.
A key focus within the program is MS, with the number of MS patients in Kuwait estimated to be 1000 to 1400 people from unofficial sources only, as there are no up-to-date epidemiological studies available.
"We established a registry in 2010 and we're trying to accurately measure the actual prevalence and incidence in the country. Preliminary data suggests that since the last data for Kuwait was published in 2005, incidence has almost tripled from around 30 cases per 100,000 people to approximately 80 people per 100,000 “ which is consistent with the global figures," said Dr Raed Al Roughani, Neurology Consultant in Al Amiri Hospital, Kuwait City, and leading specialist in the treatment of MS in the country.
"By the end of next year we should have the full registry data available to determine the real number of sufferers of MS in the country, which is likely to be even higher than our current estimates," added Dr. Al Roughani.
Over the last few years there has been a lot of education and awareness raised around MS, added Dr Al Hassan, mainly due to the immediate access to information, especially given that MS tends to hit at an early age “ around 20 years old.
"While MS is not a curable disease, it is treatable, and the problem is not availability of medication but compliance with the prescribed treatment regimen. We need to focus on improving the adherence rate so that we can hold off disease progression," added Dr. Al Roughani.
Published research figures show MS affects around 25 to 50 people in 100,000 in Arabic populations and about 100 per 100,000 in Northern Europeans who display the highest risk of MS across the world, with prevalence seeming to increase with further distance from the equator .
MS is a nervous system disease with no known cause that affects the brain and spinal cord. It damages the myelin sheath that surrounds and protects the nerve cells which slows down or blocks messages between the brain and the body, leading to the symptoms of MS: these include visual disturbances, muscle weakness, trouble with coordination and balance, sensations such as numbness, prickling, or "pins and needles" and thinking and memory problems.
Globally MS affects women more than men  and often begins between the ages of 20 and 40. The disease can be mild but some people lose the ability to write, speak or walk. There is no cure for MS but medicines can slow disease progression and help control symptoms.
The congress is set to take place in Al Hashemi Ballroom at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Kuwait City, 16 - 17 November.