Multiple sclerosis registry to track patients

The health status of Canadians with multiple sclerosis will be monitored under a new system that aims to identify the best treatments.
Ted Robak of New Brunswick travelled to Poland in April to undergo experimental treatment for multiple sclerosis. A new monitoring system will help track outcomes and identify the most effective therapies. (David Smith/Canadian Press)

The health status of Canadians with multiple sclerosis will be monitored under a new system.

Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced the Canadian Multiple Sclerosis Monitoring System on Wednesday in Ottawa.

"We need reliable information on the health status of Canadians with MS, " said Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. David Butler-Jones.

"Over the long term, this system will help monitor outcomes and identify the most effective therapies in the treatment of MS. The information can also help health system planners identify future needs and plan resource distribution more effectively, to ensure those diagnosed with MS have access to the care they need," he added in a statement.

It is hoped that the new monitoring system will offer an improved understanding of disease patterns and use of treatments across Canada so health-care providers will be better able to deliver care.

The monitoring system will also track patients who travel out of country for a controversial vein-clearing technique pioneered by Italian researcher Dr. Paolo Zamboni, a spokesperson for the Public Health Agency of Canada said.

The tracking will consider MS changes over time and any complications, according to the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada.

Canada's network of MS clinics will be part of the project. People who volunteer to participate will have their clinical and demographic information collected by their doctor.

Data will start to be collected this year as the Canadian Institute for Health Information develops the monitoring system. The project is expected to be running fully by 2012, the agency said.

MS strikes 133 out of every 100,000 people in Canada, the fifth-highest rate among world countries surveyed according to a recent international atlas on the disease.