The University of Ain Shams, in cooperation with Novartis Pharmaceuticals, inaugurated Egypt’s first medical unit for the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS). An autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system, MS is the second most common cause of disability worldwide after road accidents. The inauguration was attended by the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, the Director General of Demerdash Hospital, the Head of the university’s Psychiatry and Neurology Department and a select group of eminent Neurology professors.
“We’re very proud to be at the forefront of initiatives aiming to treat MS patients,” said Dr Samia Ashour, Head of the Psychiatry and Neurology Department at Ain Shams University. “The faculty of medicine at the Ain Shams University is not just a national pioneer, but one of the largest teaching medical institutions in Africa and the Middle East. We strive to lead developments that benefit patients, especially regarding the treatment of neurological diseases such as MS, which though still relatively unknown represents a serious health challenge.”
“We would like to express our sincere appreciation to Novartis Pharmaceuticals for its continued support and contribution,” she added.
Dr Magd Foud Zakariah, Professor of Neurology at Ain Shams University said the unit provides free treatment to all MS patients. Nearly 60 – 80 patients will benefit from the unit every month to maintain high treatment standards while extending services to many patients.
“Despite the fact that so far there is no complete cure for MS, there are treatments that can halt disease progress, such as the new oral medication fingolimod, approved by the FDA in 2010, and used to treat nearly 85,000 patients worldwide.”
“With over 50,000 MS patients in Egypt, this unit is one of the biggest steps toward better treatment,” said Dr Hany Aref, Professor of Neurology at Ain Shams University. “MS is a severe health challenge due to multiple symptoms which complicate diagnosis. The unit is equipped with follow-up devices, an ECG monitor and offers patients day-care where they can receive treatment over 5-6 hours. Moreover in the case of relapse, patients need to undergo intensive cortisone treatment, which they can also receive via this day-care facility.”
Mahesh Karande, Novartis Egypt Country President, said: “We are committed to working hand-in-hand with the medical community and civil society to raise awareness of MS, and we strive to facilitate patients’ access to the best medical care to enjoy a better quality of life. We are honored to be part of this important step toward relieving patients’ burdens.”
MS is an autoimmune disease, in which the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. No one fully understands what causes MS. The only consensus is that the immune system becomes hyperactive, attacking and destroying the myelin sheath – the fatty substance that coats and protects nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord.
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