By Chioma Obinna
As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to mark 2019 World Stroke Day, Stroke Action Nigeria has raised the alarm over increasing prevalence of strokes, saying that in Nigeria, stroke affects 200,000 people annually.
In a message to mark the day in Lagos, the Chief Executive, Stroke Action Nigeria, Rita Melifonwu said stroke has become the global leading cause of disability and the second leading cause of death worldwide.
“In Nigeria, stroke continues to affect 200,000 people annually, yet this is an estimate as we do not have a national stroke register. “
Noting that the majority of people affected by stroke now in Nigeria are adults in their most economically active lifespan, she noted that it has resulted in unemployment and poverty.
Melifonwu who is an Ashoka Fellow said this year’s World Stroke Day would focus on stroke risks and prevention, with the ‘Don’t be the One’ Campaign highlighting the fact that the lifetime risk of stroke for adults over the age of 25 is now 1 in 4 – an increase from 1 in 6.
She stressed the need for more effective and accelerated action on prevention saying there are also steps that individuals can take to understand and reduce their risk.
“We know from the World Stroke Organisation that 90 per cent of strokes are linked to 10 key risk factors including High Blood Pressure, Physical Inactivity, Unhealthy Diet low in fruits and vegetable consumption, High Cholesterol, Obesity, Active or Passive Smoking, High Alcohol Intake, Atrial Fibrillation, Diabetes, Low levels of Income and Education. There are actions we can take to reduce our risk of stroke.”
She said to help drive awareness of stroke risks and prevention, Stroke Action Nigeria is collaborating with a number of Stroke Support Organisations in Nigeria such as Michael and Fransisca Stroke Foundation, Acha Foundation, Stroke Care International, and, IDA Stroke Awareness Foundation to fly the flag for the ‘Don’t Be The One’ to have a stroke in Nigeria Campaign.
“On World Stroke Day, we are partnering with key agencies including the National Hospital Abuja FCT, General Hospital Onitsha, Health Development Initiative Aba, and Stroke Care Initiative Markurdi to commemorate the World Stroke Day.
Key activities will include Walk and Run Against Strokes, a free stroke Riskometer Assessment to help citizens know their stroke risk factors and educate them on lifestyle changes, and, free health checks.
“We also have a campaign website, to complete their individual stroke risk assessment. This will help with identifying risks of stroke and take appropriate action to seek health education to obtain lifestyle and self-management advice. “This is a useful educational tool that will help Nigerians to know that the risk factors for stroke are not witchcraft, an arrow from God, evil cast by a wicked relative.
The Chief Executive of Stroke Action Nigeria said that the Trust Board of Stroke Action Nigeria is calling on Nigerians to think prevention and not be the one, to have a stroke.