From our CEO

Make no mistake. The dramatic escalation in the number of people in Australia living with MS represents one big wake-up call for government.

The alarming spike revealed in the MS Australia commissioned report, shows a 30% increase in prevalence, with the number of people with MS in Australia rising from 25,600 in 2017 to 33,335 in 2021.

Our report, prepared by health economists and MS experts at the Menzies Institute for Medical Research, also shows that the direct and indirect costs of MS to the Australian community have risen from $1.75bn a year in 2017 to a staggering $2.5bn in 2021.

The out-of-pocket expenses for people living with MS and their families have also grown, causing considerable hardship for many.

The reasons for the sharp increase in prevalence are not entirely clear, but it does mirror other increases experienced in a number of other countries in Europe and North America.

One of the report’s authors, Professor Bruce Taylor, discusses the possible reasons for the rise in the latest edition of our new podcast, The Raw Nerve.

Also canvassed are calls to action, articulated by the MS Australia President, Des Graham.

For government, we are urging action so that we can work together to turn the tables on MS and take us further and faster down the pathways to cures.

We need to see a commitment to:

  • Partner with MS Australia to boost MS research through greater allocations from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF)
  • The annual collection of key data on MS and other neurological conditions via the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
  • Boost the number of MS nurses – currently in decline
  • Establish a neurological advisory group to inform and improve decision-making by the NDIS
  • Improve brain health through greater commitment to disease prevention, early detection and improved management and care

On the positive side, we are genuinely excited to be part of the leadership group for better alignment and coordination of the global research effort under the ‘Pathways to Cures’ initiative.

In particular, we want to work closely with others MS research organisations to see if we can find a way of identifying people at high risk of developing MS and ensure they get the interventions needed to avoid the disease altogether.

We are also actively seeking funds to get our proposed Platypus clinical trials up and running to find effective therapies for progressive forms of MS.

We’re also excited about the next generation of Disease Modifying Therapies, the BTK Inhibitors, which will, we hope, improve the quality of life for people living with MS.

And we are grateful for the investment of $18m by the Australian Government from the MRFF to investigate the role of the Epstein-Barr virus in MS, a result of MS Australia advocacy.

There is much to do – and the latest prevalence data has highlighted the urgency of getting on with the job.


InforMS: a new MS management app co-designed by people with MS

People living with MS explain why they love the new...

New tools for MS researchers launched to enhance clinical outcomes research

MS Australia-supported researchers have developed a suite of free tools...

Want us to keep you in the loop? Subscribe today!

  • Enter your details

Read More
COVID-19 experiences in Australia for people with MS and MS carers2023 MS Australia research grants

Newsletter subscription

  • Enter your details

From our CEO