There are several reasons of lack of awareness about stroke in developing countries especially in India for which both the Professionals and the Governments are mostly responsible. Although it is the number two killer (in China it is the number one) and leading cause of adult disability worldwide, most developing countries (Middle – and – Low Income Countries) have to bear more than 80% of global burden of Stroke. Unfortunately, these countries are economically poor and accordingly ill equipped with proper stroke care infrastructure due to lack of funds.
Stroke gets less attention mostly due to the following reasons:
- Stroke is wrongly understood as Heart Attack by about 70% of people till now even with sporadic and limited awareness programs in the country. The myth may be due to the fact that stroke is included in a small category of the Cardiovascular Diseases (CVD). To highlight the importance of Stroke in World Map, stroke is required to be isolated from CVD like “Stroke Alone” as recommended by World Stroke Association under the leadership of Prof Bo Norrving, former President of World Stroke Organization, who initiated the issue with WHO and presented the cause of Stroke (in the World Map) to the Heads of States in UN General Assembly.
- Stroke Patients cannot speak out or ventilate their grievances as they are disabled suddenly with paralysis, lack of speech or communication, confusion, depression and frustration. So the society or the common man cannot appreciate the gravity of the problems. Moreover, the people mostly believe stroke means end of life and nothing can be done for him except wasting of time and money. But the fact is this, stroke in our country afflicts people at around 50 years of age and can be properly treated and rehabilitated with remarkable recovery in majority of cases.
- In spite of huge burden affecting the people in their prime period of life, resulting large number of death and huge burden of disability, no definite measure or guidelines have been taken by the State (in India with federal structure, Stroke is a State matter) .or the Union of India (Central Government). Lack of Funding may be due to lack of awareness among the Administrators, Policymakers, Advisers, Professionals and others.
- But the FACT is Stroke is easily Preventable in 80-90% of cases with proper preventive measures and Treatable in proper Stroke Centres/Units if treated early.
- The modalities of Awareness should be properly adhered to in all areas of the country with help of Government, Professionals, Hospitals, Local Medias (Electronic and Print) and NGOs. Emphasis should be given on Risk factors esp Hypertension and Tobacco Addiction (Smoking and Chewing) control of which results in prevention of stroke in over 70%. Other risk factors like Dyslipidemia (High Cholesterol in blood), Obesity, Diabetes, Heart Diseases (Atrial Fibrillation, Rheumatic and Ischemic Heart Diseases) and Lifestyle disorders (like Junk foods and Lack of Exercise).
- Moreover, recently introduced Mobile based device – Stroke Riskometer app, in English and Bengali will help many smartphone users by downloading from internet anywhere in the world. This is a very reliable and accurate method of Stroke Awareness and Primary Stroke Prevention. In our country, like many others, this “Stroke Riskometer app” should be used by all Smartphone users whose number is increasing rapidly in our country. The media and the Government should spread this message to the public.
- For facilitating all these, we need many Comprehensive Stroke Centres, funded by the Government to Prevent, Treat and Rehabilitate Stroke patients in all areas of this country.