Monday, October 9, 2017

Stroke Association of Kenya's exciting plans for World Stroke Day 2017

We spoke with the team at Stroke Association of Kenya about their plans for World Stroke Day 2017. Edward Konzolo - the Organizing Secretary, Florence Nduati- the Treasurer, Prof. Grace Ochodo - the Secretary General, Dr. Evans Nyambega - Chairman and Cornelius Sayi - Administrator.

Tell us about why you are holding a World Stroke Day event? 
There is increasing prevalence of stroke in Kenya, so we want to raise awareness in order for people to mitigate this. Strokes are happening across the country in both rural and urban areas – so this is a challenge and we want to raise awareness across the country. We cannot assume because people live in urban areas that they have more knowledge; many people do not understand the concept of stroke and if they feel unwell many people assume it is malaria or other well-known illnesses that they have awareness of. 

We want to change the situation so that people know what the stroke symptoms are and to know what action to take when they see or experience such symptoms.

Our government are not putting much emphasis on stroke, so we want to change this and to get them to collaborate with us.

We also want to change the way stroke emergency is handled so that we can have standardized emergency response.

Availability of timely, affordable quality medical care and rehabilitation for stroke attacks is also our priority area for change. 

What do you want your World Stroke Day event to achieve? 
In the short term we want to increase awareness of the risk factors and symptoms of stroke, and then what action to take. We aim to screen 1,000 people at our World Stroke Day event and advise them on the action they need to take.

In the long term, by engaging with decision makers now we want to make sure that the Stroke Association of Kenya is included in policy making activities to ensure that the policy environment supports stroke prevention and rehabilitation for survivors.

How are you planning your World Stroke Day event?
We started planning in August by calling many of the non-communicable disease (NCD) players in the country together. This has included Amres Health Africa, Medecins sans Frontieres, Ministry of Health Kenya, Nairobi County Government, African Institute for Health and Development. We have discussed which activity each organization can take the lead on and what equipment they can bring. We hold the meetings every Tuesday to discuss what we want to do on the day, the budget, and roles and responsibilities.

We will screen 1,000 people for blood pressure, BMI and blood sugar. Through this screening we will discuss the risk factors for stroke and the action that should be taken.
We will conduct a street procession so that as many people as possible can see us. We want to be visible. We will also have testimonies by survivors and care givers in order to ensure that the voices of stroke survivors are heard and so that the human face of stroke is seen. We will distribute flyers about stroke so that people have something to take home to keep and to refer to. We will have an award ceremony for stroke friendly organisations. This is to encourage employers to treat stroke survivors with respect and dignity. We what to promote the view that  stroke does not have to be the end of employment; as many stroke survivors and their families are pushed into poverty when they are laid off from work and cannot find employment.

We will distribute assistance devices to those who need them as we recognise that many people have very practical needs and we want to support peoples’ quality of life. Also to be distributed is equipment to enhance economic empowerment for survivors who are able to use them, such as welding and sewing machines. 

We are already doing media interviews on radio and television in the run up to World Stroke Day. We recognise the need to promote our activity as far as we can using communication channels. In Kenya community radio is really accessible and popular so we know that we can reach many people this way. We are also using social media platforms in order to reach as many people as possible.

What resources do you have to help you deliver the World Stroke Day event?
We have mobilised a lot of volunteers through the universities in Nairobi. We have the involvement of public health students from Kenyatta University and volunteers from Kenya Medical training college. We have also engaged community health volunteers who are in every village. Stroke survivors, who are our members, have also appeared on various media platforms for purposes of sharing their experiences. 

Our major challenge is funding, not just for World Stroke Day but for the functioning of the Stroke Association of Kenya, so continuing any work is a major challenge. We are appealing for financial help and we are applying for grants in order to ensure the proper realisation of our goals. We are fortunate that our partners are supporting the budget for World Stroke Day.

The other organisations that are collaborating with us are providing materials to help with the campaign event. Each collaborator brings something according to its own specialisation. The Ministry of Health is supporting the printing of leaflets. Volunteers will assist in the screening and data collection.

How do you ensure that you learn from and build on World Stroke Day events?
This will be the third World Stroke Day event that we have run. Each year there are new challenges including securing funding, attracting volunteers, getting survivors from where they live to the event activity. However our partners have increased and this gives us the additional support that we need. We also recognise that we cannot just be in the city centre, we need to get out to the suburbs. 

The stroke award for a friendly organization is something new and we hope to have this as an annual event so that organizations will be able to compete for this.

We shall have a data collection and a monitoring tool which will be filled in with details of everyone screened. This will inform our final evaluation report which will be compiled after the event. People enquiring about our activities continue to call in during and after media appearances and this is an indication of the impact of our activities. Membership will also increase as more survivors will come out to register as has been in the past. We hope to find partners to continue assisting our programs because they will get to know of our existence and learn more of what we are engaged in. The Government has been of immense assistance in terms of human resources and we hope to get more assistance for our programs in terms of funding. There is already increased partner interest and we hope to get more partners to know and support our activities. 

Follow Stroke Association on twitter @saokenya1 

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