Monday, October 29, 2018

A World Stroke Day Message from India

World Stroke Organisation Vice Chair Prof Jeyaraj Pandian shares his message to the public about the need for increased attention to reduce the burden of stroke in India and other Low and Middle Income Countries.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Stroke Leaders Highlight Global Cost of Government Inaction

Today on World Stroke Day, October 29, the World Stroke Organization, is calling for urgent action and investment to address the growing burden of stroke and circulatory diseases globally. 

Highlighting the disappointing outcome of the recent UN High Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) the WSO President, Prof Michaeal Brainin said, ‘The impact of stroke on individuals, families and society as a whole is devastating. Stroke survivors can face significant impairment of movement, speech, cognition alongside debilitating psychological, social and financial problems.'

'This devastation is compounded by knowing that 80% of strokes could be prevented by addressing a small number of risk factors, including hypertension, diet, smoking and exercise. Preventive action on stroke would also contribute to a massive scale reduction in CVD, cancer, diabetes and other significant causes of death and suffering worldwide.

'With this knowledge, the current lack of political will and investment is incomprehensible, especially given the costs of such inaction. While 5.5 million people die as a result of stroke each year, 80 million survivors around the world currently live with some form of disability or impairment. The costs to individuals is incalculable and the cost to society is astronomical.’

A recent policy document ‘Driving Sustainable Action for Circulatory Health’ published by the WSO and its partners in the Global Coalition for Circulatory Health, has calculated the global cost of circulatory diseases, including stroke, at US$957 Billion in 2015. On current projections this figure is set to rise to US$1044 Billion in the next 12 years.

The white paper sets out four key areas for action that, if enacted, would ensure delivery of global goals on disease reduction which are driving the rise in direct and indirect costs of NCDs. These include legislative interventions to:

1. Deliver policies and programmes to address tobacco, alcohol and unhealthy foods, promote clean air and deliver a built environment which fosters safe physical activity.

2. Ensure access to affordable, quality-assured essential medicines, delivered by adequately trained staff, including access to multi-therapy treatments.

3. Mobilise sufficient resources to combat non-communicable diseases including stroke. The taxation of unhealthy products such as alcohol, tobacco, unhealthy foods and non-alcoholic beverages (such as sugar-sweetened beverages) would generate revenues that could be directed to further prevention and control of circulatory diseases at global and national levels.

4. Put in place reliable, simple, and fit-for- purpose surveillance systems for monitoring the burden of stroke and the prevalence of NCD risk factors and treatment of stroke at national and global levels.

Prof Brainin concluded 'At the recent UN High Level Meeting on NCDs in New York, governments delivered a weak response to a global crisis and agreed to wait 7 years before reviewing progress. In that time another 38.5 million people will die of stroke. We can't wait until 2025 to calculate our losses, we need strong leadership and bold action to save lives now.'

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The ammunition to fight stroke and NCDs together

A Call to Action and Ammunition Needed to Beat Stroke and NCDs
By Prof Bo Norrving, WSO Global Policy Committee Chair

Next week I will be in MontrĂ©al, alongside 2500 stroke leaders and stakeholders spanning clinical practice, research, rehabilitation and patient and caregiver organizations. The expertise and individual interests represented at the biennial World StrokeCongress may be diverse, but our common commitment is the same – to fight stroke and reduce its devastating impact on individuals and society.

As the world’s second largest cause of death and disability it is a battle well worth fighting, but one that we don’t have to – not should we - take on alone. Globallly, regionally and nationally there are networks and alliances working to break down the traditional siloes between disease groups in order to increase the speed at which the world addresses the diseases that are most likely to kill us.  We know, that by connecting the dots and coordinating our efforts with others who have a shared investment in beating NCDs, we can achieve more, maximise our investments and move faster than we can individually. When investments have been slow to come, and governmental commitments to change continue to disappoint, this could be the key to making progress.

The sense that together we are stronger, is certainly the driving force for collaboration between the NCD Alliance and the World Stroke Organization (WSO) and the rationale behind our latest partnership collaboration Acting on Stroke and NCDs. The aim of this policy brief, which will be launched at the World Stroke Congress in Montréal, is to clearly articulate the shared prevention and treatment issues for NCD stakeholders and to set out key priorities for action at global, regional and national level. It is our hope that Acting on Stroke and NCDs provides not just a call to action, but the ammunition needed to beat NCDs.

The publication clearly sets out the contribution to stroke to global NCD mortality and identifies the shared and specific gaps in current approaches to addressing stroke and NCDs. When only 6% of all people who have a stroke have no comorbidities and when comorbidities result in not only higher healthcare, individual and social costs, this policy brief sets out a strong evidence-based argument and some clear action points that will turn the tide on stroke and NCDs .

How to respond to the challenge of stroke and NCDs

Invest in prevention
Given that 90% of strokes are linked to 10 modifiable risk factors, several of which are shared by a number of NCDs, investing human and financial resources in diagnosis, education and risk reduction will deliver advances across the board

Ensure access to acute and chronic speciality care
People need to be treated in services and by clinicians in accordance with clinical practice guidelines for NCDs. Access to stroke units and to acute therapies is a backbone in stroke care, as is rehabilitation and long-term support.

Strengthen the primary healthcare network
Access to a solid primary care network is essential to effective prevention and long-term treatment of stroke and NCD. Financial barriers and out of pocket costs for prevention, diagnosis and treatment needs to be reduced. Universal health coverage should cover essential diagnostic and treatment.

Implement the WHO HEARTS Technical package
Taking the seven steps set out in this package would ensure that the right medicine reaches stroke patients at the right time and at an affordable rate.

Every 2 seconds, someone somewhere in the world has a stroke, the clock is ticking and we don’t have time to wait – strengthened actions on stroke and NCDs are urgently needed. Let’s gather our allies, target our actions and work for upscaled efforts. We have had ENOUGH on political inertia on NCDs.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Report from the 21st Conference of the Iberoamerican Stroke Organization and the 1st Latin American Ministerial Meeting on CVA. Gramado, Brazil, August 2nd - 4th, 2018.

Discussions at the Ministerial Meeting
In this congress experts on cerebrovascular diseases from the Ibero-American countries (Portugal, Spain and the Americas) and other areas of the world met in Gramado to present the greatest innovations in this field.  

WSO Faculty Members at the conference

The ministerial meeting gathered healthcare administrators and practitioners from Latin America, in addition to experts from other continents. They discussed the impact of stroke on the region, the organization of services and healthcare networks, successful models, challenges and potential solutions. We finished it with the expectation that this meeting will have a great impact on regional public healthcare policies, making them a reference for the world.

Professor Michael Brainin presents the WSO Social Commitment and Bill of Rights at a meeting for the general public
The 21st Congress of the IASO joined some of the leaders in stroke neurology from the continent; we had lecturers from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Germany, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Spain, USA. 

Dr Sheila Martins and a stroke survivor present his testimonial
Lectures, Seminars, Workshops, Challenges, a spectacular location and interesting social activities contributed to the celebration of a very successful meeting, with 810 participants from 20 countries. Professors Werner Hacke, Michael Brainin, Patrice Lindsay, Valery Feigin from the WSO and Valeria Caso from the ESO joined us to enrich one of the most important international meetings for stroke in Latin America.

Next year we will meet in Costa Rica; another wonderful chance to learn, to share and to enjoy.

Discussion at the interactive ‘Stroke Challenge’ workshop

Presentation of the First Prize in the World Stroke Campaign awards

The reality of stroke in Kenya is heard at the UN High Level Meeting

Edward Konzolo, secretary of WSO stroke support organization member, Stroke Association of Kenya, was in New York last week at the UN High Level Meeting on NCDs.  

Edward attended this important meeting as both a person living with an NCD and as a member of a patient stroke support organisation. Edward took the opportunity to highlight his experience of stroke and the work that his organization is doing to reduce the burden of stroke in Kenya. It was a great opportunity for Edward to share the work that the Stroke Association of Kenya does; its strategies for engaging communities through stroke support groups, which are run with very little resource but great commitment from members. 

Edward says, 'I made myself heard! I talked to ministers of health from Kenya, Rwanda, Denmark and the USA. I even had some time with pharmaceutical representatives.

In our meeting we talked about how we can take the NCD agenda and discussions from the village and be heard at the UN. We stressed the importance of universal health care and action that needs to taken by governments. 

I talked about how stroke has affected my life. I lost my job and I was traumatized by the loss of friends. This was made worse by the lack of medication and rehabilitation . I said that governments should take steps because the disease affects the productive population. We also need to take action to reduce the stigma and discrimination that people face.

This was a valuable opportunity for me to talk about the reality of stroke in Kenya at such a high level meeting. I return to Kenya motivated to continue the fight against stroke!'

Read more about the work of the Stroke Association of Kenya here

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