Social impact of MS

Most of the information given on this page refers to the situation in the Netherlands. By and large, however, many of the facts given are applicable to many countries throughout the world when the necessary adjustments are made. One in a thousand people in the Netherlands has MS; that corresponds to more than 16,000 MS patients throughout the country. In general, people are first affected with MS between the ages of twenty and forty. MS is one of the most common complaints of the central nervous system or CNS (the brain and the spinal cord) in young adults – people with a whole life ahead of them, who are busily making plans for the future. Women are at higher risk of getting MS than men. MS is often a hidden disease: especially in the initial stages, the signs of the disease are often not clearly visible. As a result, each adult who lives in the Netherlands probably knows two people with MS, but may not be aware that they have the disease.

The incidence of MS in the Netherlands (the number of new patients per year) is 3.5 per 100,000 head of population (1). If we assume that the population of the Netherlands is 16 million, this means that there are about 560 new MS patients every year. In other words, every week about 10 people are told that they have the disease. On a worldwide scale, more than a million people have MS and someone is informed that he or she has MS every hour.