NGO, hospital in Mumbai join hands to offer free medical care to Multiple Sclerosis patients | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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NGO, hospital in Mumbai join hands to offer free medical care to Multiple Sclerosis patients

The hospital will provide medical services worth Rs 10 lakh free of cost annually to MS patients, at its centres in Dadar and Vikhroli

mumbai Updated: Apr 23, 2018 19:07 IST
Aayushi Pratap

A city-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) that helps people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a chronic autoimmune condition, has arrived at a unique arrangement with a hospital to financially assist MS patients.

About Multiple Sclerosis
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS) results when the body’s immune system attacks the central nervous system (CNS). The CNS is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves.
  • The cause of MS is not known — scientists believe the disease is triggered by an as-yet-unidentified environmental factor in a person genetically predisposed to respond.
  • The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot be predicted.
  • Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50; two to three times more women are being diagnosed with the disease than men.Source: National Multiple Sclerosis Society

NGO Multiple Sclerosis Society of India has donated Rs70 lakh to Shushrusha Citizens’ Co-operative Hospital Trust to set up a new hospital facility in Vikhroli. In return, the hospital will provide medical services worth Rs10 lakh free of cost annually to MS patients. The NGO had saved up the money originally to set up a respite home for MS patients, but donated it to the hospital when it realised that the amount would not be sufficient for the home.

“This arrangement is a unique model. It is a collaboration between two organisations to help MS patients as the cost of treatment often runs into lakhs in private and corporate hospitals,” said Sheela Chitnis, founder-member and chairperson of Mumbai chapter, Multiple Sclerosis Society of India (MSSI).

At present, around 4,000 MS patients are registered with the NGO across India, of whom 675 are based in Mumbai, she added. The aid will be given to patients in the city, as well as to two of their caregivers, Chitnis revealed. “We will not deny aid to MS patients who come from outside the city, but in that case, it will be only for the patients themselves, not their caregivers,” she explained. In India, MS is believed to affect one in 1,00,000 people.

MS, which affects the brain and the spinal cord, happens when your immune system attacks a fatty material called myelin, which covers your nerve fibres to protect them. Without this outer shell, your nerves become damaged. The damage means your brain often cannot send signals through your body correctly. Your nerves also don’t work as they should to help you move and feel. Its symptoms include blurry vision, hand and leg stiffness, tingling and numbness. It is diagnosed through MRI scans and tests done on the cerebrospinal fluid.

Dr Nandkishore Laud, chairman and director, Shushrusha Citizens’ Co-operative Hospital, Dadar, said: “MS is a chronic disease — it is not curable, but it is controllable. When patients have an episode, they become weak as their muscles are affected.”

Once the hospital in Vikhroli is inaugurated next month, MS patients can opt for treatment at both hospitals, Laud added.

Multiple Sclerosis Society of India can be reached at www.mssocietyindia.org. Its Mumbai chapter can be contacted at 022- 24037390.

Neurologists said the monthly cost of treatment is steep as patients need multiple scans, steroid injections and a team of physiotherapists to help them cope with and manage the condition. Dr Dhanashri Chonker, consultant neurologist, Chaitanya heart and brain clinic, Mulund, estimates the average monthly cost for a MS patient to be between Rs 25,000 and Rs 35,000. “The primary therapy and injections of a steroid called methyl prednisolone cost between Rs 15,000 and Rs 20,000. They reduce inflammation on the nerves,” said Dr Chonker. “Then, there is the maintenance therapy, which includes injections of a protein called interferon to prevent an immune attack on myelin. So any financial aid to these patients is welcome.”