Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Raising stroke awareness among communities in Nigeria

Michael Uchunor, a stroke survivor and founder of the Michael and Francisca Foundation, a registered non governmental organization in Nigeria, and member of the World Stroke Organization, has started an important stroke awareness campaign.

'I was 33 years old when I had my stroke in 2012. I used to drink a lot of alcohol and smoke cigarettes. I think I may have been hypertensive before the stroke occurred but I have no way of knowing since I had never checked my blood pressure before then. That is why it is very important to have yourself checked. Important checks to prevent strokes include blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol. 

I now want to identify the stroke survivors, through my connection with Catholic parishes, to come under the umbrella of Michael and Francisca Foundation Group so that we can advocate together for better stroke awareness and care for stroke survivors in Nigeria. When I had my stroke there was nothing like a stroke support group in my area, but I know that my recovery would have been easier if I had been connected with such a group. A group where I could meet other stroke survivors with similar disabilities; get to know and communicate with one another, share stories, challenges and inspiration, learn about promising treatment and new research. This obvious void gave birth to the “Michael and Francisca Foundation” which is a stroke support group and a place where stroke survivors and their relatives connect with one another.

We started the Campaign on Stroke on the 4th of March 2018 and will continue until December. I have met with new stroke survivors and to my surprise one had never been to the hospital.

There are a lot of challenges, most of the stroke survivors don’t adhere to their medication, largely due to the costs and they prioritise being able to buy food. 

In Nigeria, we need to challenge the belief that only older people have a stroke. Stroke can happen to anyone at any age. We also need to raise awareness of the FAST message, of the signs to look for and the action to take:

Face: Drooping
Arms: Weakness
Speech: Difficulty, at which point it is
Time:  to call for medical help

Throughout the campaign we will be raising awareness and  helping people to take action to manage their stroke risk factors'.

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