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 Montréal, 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 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.