Written Answers. - Myasthenia Gravis Disease.

Austin Currie

Question:

114 Mr. Currie asked the Minister for Health the number of patients currently suffering from myasthenia gravis; the degree to which they are responding to treatment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1000/94]

Frank Crowley

Question:

166 Mr. Crowley asked the Minister for Health the proposals, if any, he has for new procedures whereby diagnosis of myasthenia gravis can be improved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [998/94]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 114 and 166 together.

Myasthenia gravis is a relatively uncommon disease which affects the neuro-muscular system. Where a patient exhibits symptoms or signs of a neuro-muscular condition, a general practitioner would normally refer the patient to a medical consultant for confirmation of the condition and whether a diagnosis of myasthenia gravis can be confirmed. I am satisfied that appropriate resources are available for the diagnosis and treatment of this condition.

It is not possible to determine the degree to which patients are responding to treatment as this is a matter of confidentiality between doctors and individual patients.

There are at present no official statistics on the prevalence of myasthenia gravis, which is not a notifiable disease. I accept the need for priority to be given to the development of epidemiological data on health needs in general, and this is one of the elements of the health strategy which I published recently.