Wednesday, August 7, 2019

World Stroke Campaign award a testament to life after stroke

Michael Uchunor, founder of the stroke support organisation Michael and Francisca Foundation in Nigeria, wins the 'Award for Individual Achievement' in recognition of his work in support of the World Stroke Day campaign 2018. 

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.

I now want to identify stroke survivors so that we can advocate together for better stroke awareness and care for stroke survivors in Nigeria. Stroke advocacy and campaigning are important in order to educate the public about the symptoms of stroke and the importance of getting to the hospital quickly. It also raises awareness on profound and universal impact of stroke on individuals and families so that decision makers understand the importance of resourcing quality education, treatment and long term care and support for stroke survivors and care givers.

Stroke support organisations like Michael and Francisca Foundation still have to focus on grassroots outreach to raise awareness as many people in Nigeria do not have access to media campaigns. This outreach also gives us greater understanding of the lived experience of stroke that we can share with decision makers.

I get involved in World Stroke Day on 29th October every year to underscore the serious nature and high rates of stroke, to raise awareness of the prevention and treatment of the condition and ensure better care for survivors.

When I had my stroke, there was nothing like a stroke support group near me that I could access, 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 effects; get to know and communicate with one another, share stories, challenges and inspiration, learn about promising treatment and new research. This gap gave birth to the Michael and Francisca Foundation which is a place where stroke survivors and their relatives connect with one another. We now have 128 members and still counting.

Receiving the Award for Individual Achievement from the World Stroke Campaign is testament to me and other stroke survivors that there can be life after stroke. I am thankful for my faith and to my family and friends who stood by me. This is just the beginning of my stroke campaigning in Nigeria.

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