2023 World Stroke Day: Pate calls for increased proactive measures to combat stroke

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By Joyce Remi-Babayeju

As Nigeria commemorates the 2023 World Stroke Day, WSD, the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate has called for increased awareness and proactive measures to combat the prevalence of stroke in Nigeria.

Prof. Pate made this call today at a press briefing to mark the WSD with the theme: ” Together we are #Greater Than Stroke” held today in Abuja.

The minister explained that stroke is a cardiovascular disease that occurs when the blood supply to the brain is reduced or blocked, depriving brain tissue of essential of oxygen and nutrients.

“Symptoms can range from paralysis or numbness on one side of the body, confusion, difficulty speaking or swallowing, impaired coordination, to severe headaches”, stating that hypertension alone contributes to 90% of all stroke cases.

” Immediate medical attention is vital in the event of a stroke.”

The minister stated that the high incidence of stroke in Nigeria is caused by prevalent risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, poor dietary choices, alcohol use, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle.

According to him, “recognizing the vital role of Primary Health Care in disease prevention and early detection, “we launched the National Hypertension Control Initiative (NHCI) in August 2019.”

“This initiative focuses on strengthening PHC Centers to prevent and manage hypertension. The initiative has made significant progress with its simplified hypertension treatment protocol implemented in numerous PHC Centers across the country.”

The minister explained that the Nigerian Heart Foundation To further support heart emergencies, the Nigerian Heart Foundation has procured Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) for deployment in high-population areas such as airports to support heart emergencies.

AEDs are portable life-saving medical devices used to revive sudden cardiac arrest victims.

The World Stroke Organization reports that stroke is the leading cause of disability worldwide, affecting over 12 million people each year.

“However, up to 90% of strokes are preventable. The #GreaterThan campaign aims to empower individuals to understand and address stroke risks.”

He revealed that government’s strategic policy documents aimed at preventing cardiovascular diseases have been developed-including a National Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) Policy, Multi-Sectoral Action Plan on NCDs and National Guidelines for prevention, control, and management of hypertension.

Furthermore, the minister said that the Ministry has developed guidelines for other NCDs such as diabetes, and sickle cell disease, as it is currently implementing the National Tobacco Control Act 2015 and Regulations 2019.

Meanwhile, the Minister has urged health workers to come together to share key messages on stroke prevention and to take action that will help individuals understand and address these risks.

Earlier, Director, Public Health Department, Dr. Chukwuma Anyaoku stated that Nigeria bears a significant burden of stroke noting that current data indicates stroke prevalence rates as high as 1331 cases .

Anyaoku revealed that Hospital-based data shows that stroke is the most common cause of adult neurological admissions in many parts of the country.

Alarmingly, up to 40% of patients admitted for acute strokes in Nigeria do not survive beyond 30 days. Many survivors are left with varying degrees of disability and face substantial lifetime costs due to rehabilitation and social reintegration.

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