BY CHIKA OKEKE, Abuja
The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Professor Muhammad Ali Pate has raised the alarm that up to 40 percent of patients admitted for acute strokes in Nigeria die and do not survive beyond 30 days.
This is even as he disclosed that many survivors were left with varying degrees of disability and face substantial lifetime costs due to rehabilitation and social reintegration.
Pate disclosed this on Monday in Abuja at a ministerial press briefing to commemorate the World Stroke Day with the theme, “Together we are #GreaterThan Stroke.”
Stroke is a cardiovascular disease that occurs when the blood supply to the brain is reduced or blocked, depriving brain tissue of essential oxygen and nutrients.
Symptoms include paralysis or numbness on one side of the body, confusion, difficulty speaking or swallowing, impaired coordination and severe headaches.
Pate sought for heightened awareness and proactive measures to combat the high incidence of stroke in Nigeria, adding that immediate medical attention is vital in curbing the illness.
He pointed out that the high incidence of stroke is driven by prevalent risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, poor dietary choices, alcohol use, smoking and sedentary lifestyle, saying that hypertension alone contributes to 90 percent of all stroke cases.
Pate noted that the ministry launched the National Hypertension Control Initiative (NHCI) in August 2019, in recognition of the vital role of primary healthcare in disease prevention and early detection.
He hinted that the initiative focused on strengthening Primary Health Care (PHC) Centres to prevent and manage hypertension, which he said recorded significant progress with its simplified hypertension treatment protocol implemented in numerous PHC centres across the country.
To support heart emergencies, the minister informed that the Nigerian Heart Foundation procured Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) for deployment in high-population areas such as airports.
AEDs are portable life-saving medical devices used to revive victims with sudden cardiac arrest.
He quoted the World Stroke Organization as saying that stroke is the leading cause of disability worldwide, affecting over 12 million people annually.
This was even as he maintained that 90 percent of strokes are preventable, as the #GreaterThan campaign is aimed at empowering individuals to understand and address stroke risks.
He announced that strategic policy documents for 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.
Pate revealed that the ministry has also developed guidelines for other NCDs like diabetes and sickle cell disease, and is currently implementing the National Tobacco Control Act 2015 and Regulations 2019.
He enjoined health workers to collaborate and share key messages on stroke prevention and take action that would assist individuals to understand and address the risks.
The Director of Public Health Department, Dr. Chukwuma Anyaike lamented that stroke is prevalent in Nigeria, noting that current data indicated that the stroke burden rated as high as 1331 cases.
He revealed that stroke is the most common cause of adult neurological admissions in many parts of the country according to available statistics.
BY CHIKA OKEKE, Abuja