MS: The First MENACTRIMS Congress


The First Congress of The Middle East North Africa Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (MENACTRIMS) was held Oct. 17-18 in Dubai. MENACTRIMS is an independent organization that facilitates communication and creates synergies among clinicians and scientists to promote and enhance research and improve clinical outcomes in multiple sclerosis (MS) in the Middle East and North Africa regions.

It was founded on Dec. 8, 2012, by nine eminent neurologists: Saeed Bohlega and Mohamad Jumaa from KSA, Riad Goueider from Tunisia, Raed Roughani from Kuwait, Maurice Dahdale from Jordan, Jihad Inshasi from the Emirates, Saher Hashem from Egypt, Issa Alsharuqui from Bahrain, and me from Lebanon.  The prevalence of MS has been steadily increasing over the last few decades in the Middle East/North Africa region, reaching as high as 80/100,000 in some countries. The challenges posed by such a medical burden created the need for an official regional scientific committee to address all emerging issues related to MS in this region of the world.

The First MENACTRIMS Congress was the first major endeavor of the newborn MENACTRIMS organization, and with more than 500 attendees, including new practitioners as well as experienced MS specialists from all over the Middle East, North Africa and neighboring countries, it turned out to be the largest scientific MS event in the region’s history. Speeches were given at the opening ceremony by Dr. Bassem Yamout, president of MENACTRIMS; Dr. Raad Shaker, president of the World Federation of Neurology; Dr. Xavier Montalban, president of ECTRIMS; Dr. Suhayl Dhib-Jalbut, president of ACTRIMS; and Dr. Saeed Bohlega, president-elect of the Pan Arab Union of Neurological Societies.

The meeting hosted plenary sessions, scientific debates, clinical courses and symposia, focusing on biomarkers, epidemiology, immunopathogenesis, differential diagnosis, genetic and environmental factors, neuroimaging, OCT, pregnancy and Neuromyelitis Optica. More than 30 international and regional speakers shared their scientific and clinical experience with the audience, and 57 posters were presented during the meeting covering both local and international research.

MENACTRIMS is the youngest sister of a large family of international MS societies, which includes our elder sister ECTRIMS of nearly 30 years, ACTRIMS, LACTRIMS, PACTRIMS and RUCTRIMS. One of our main objectives is to cooperate with all international MS organizations to promote research and improve medical care in the field of MS.

Yamout is professor of Clinical Neurology, president, MENACTRIMS and director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center Clinical Research at the American University of Beirut Medical Center in Lebanon.