The need for increased sensitization and preventive measures to address the high incidence of stroke in Nigeria, has been emphasized.
Nigeria’s Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Professor Muhammad Ali Pate stated this during a Ministerial Press Briefing on October 30, 2023, in Abuja, to commemorate World Stroke Day, with the theme, “Together we are #GreaterThan Stroke.”
Professor Pate said stroke, a cardiovascular illness could occur when the blood supply to the brain is cut off or decreased, depriving the brain tissue of vital nutrients and oxygen, and emphasised the need for a concerted effort in preventing the ailment.
He said “Symptoms can range from paralysis or numbness on one side of the body, confusion, difficulty speaking or swallowing, impaired coordination, to severe headaches. Immediate medical attention is vital in the event of a stroke.”
The Cordinating Minister attributed the high incidence of stroke in Nigeria to prevalent risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, poor dietary choices, alcohol use, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle, noting that hypertension alone contributed to 90% of all stroke cases.
He said “recognizing the vital role of Primary Health Care in disease prevention and early detection, we launched the National Hypertension Control Initiative (NHCI) in August 2019.
“This initiative focuses on strengthening PHC Centres to prevent and manage hypertension. The initiative has made significant progress with its simplified hypertension treatment protocol implemented in numerous PHC Centres across the country.
“To further support heart emergencies, the Nigerian Heart Foundation has procured Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) for deployment in high-population areas such as airports. AEDs are portable life-saving medical devices used to revive sudden cardiac arrest victims, he added.
He noted that strategic policy documents aimed at preventing cardiovascular diseases have been developed- including a National Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) Policy, Multi-Sectoral Action Plan on NCDs and National Guidelines for prevention, control and management of hypertension noting that the Ministry has also developed guidelines for other NCDs- diabetes, and sickle cell disease, and currently implementing the National Tobacco Control Act 2015 and Regulations 2019.
The Minister enjoined health workers to work together to disseminate key messages on stroke prevention and take actions that will help individuals understand and address the risks, bearing in mind that 90% of strokes are preventable.