Stroke: Expert canvasses investment in evidence-based therapies

By: Ayo Olowu

A Medical Expert and Director, Centre for Genomics and Precision Medicine of the College of Medicine of the University of Ibadan, Prof. Mayowa Owolabi has canvassed more investment in evidence-based therapies to reduce the global burden of stroke.

Owolabi made the call in a paper he presented at the Third Annual (Hybrid) Conference of the African Stroke Organization (ASO) held at The International Conference Centre of the University of Ibadan on Friday.

The theme of the conference was “Promoting Brain Health Through Stroke Prevention and Control”.

In the paper titled “Pragmatic Solutions to Reduce the Global Burden of Stroke”, Owolabi affirmed that unless urgent action is taken, the number of people who die from stroke globally is estimated to increase by 50% by 2050 to 9.7 million deaths per year.

According to the medical expert, the number of people who suffer a stroke, die from or remain disabled by the condition globally has almost doubled over the past thirty years.

He added that if the current trends continue, one of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the SDG 3.4 will not be met.

Owolabi stated that the SDG 3.4 aims to reduce the 41 million premature deaths from non- communicable diseases including stroke by one third by 2030.

The University Don who is also the Foundation Co-Chair of the Steering Committee of the African Stroke Organization (ASO) said increased investment in evidence-based therapies to reduce the global burden of stroke will deliver benefits that go far beyond health alone.

“Evidence-based recommendations will greatly reduce the impacts of stroke globally. Every member state of the United Nations has committed to meeting the SDGs, but at present, few countries are on target to achieve SDG 3.4. Stroke is countable, substantially preventable, treatable and beatable through pragmatic solutions.

“Translating evidence into action in primary stroke prevention is one of the key solutions in reducing the global burden of stroke. Brain health has to be prioritised too, without brain health, there is no health”, Owolabi said.

Also speaking at the conference, the Founding Chair of the Steering Committee of the African Stroke Organization (ASO), Prof. Rufus Akinyemi said the organization which was formally inaugurated on October 22, 2020 in a virtual event because of the COVID-19 pandemic at the time was conceptualised out of the passion to reduce the burden of stroke in Africa through rigorous stroke research, stroke services development, training and capacity building and advocacy for patients living with stroke and their caregivers.

Akinyemi added that in the last three years of its establishment, ASO, through its members has been involved in relevant research to know the causes and characteristics of stroke as observed among Africans.

The medical expert affirmed that members of the organization have equally undertaken research geared towards understanding the causes of stroke related deaths and other outcomes among Africans.

These, he noted include chest infections, infections of the urinary tract, severe strokes, recurrence of strokes among several others.

Akinyemi said to further enhance the competences of members of ASO and improve stroke treatment, the organization has organised quarterly workshops to educate members on different aspects of stroke management.

“As part of our efforts in training, we have partnered the World Stroke Organization (WSO) to organise a two-day training workshop on acute stroke care as a pre- conference workshop for the ongoing 2023 ASO Conference.

“ASOC 2023 offered not only hybrid eminent speakers and participants in engaging virtual and life-streamed physical participation, it also offered an hybrid of educational and mentorship programmes and advanced cutting edge research and innovations in stroke with international renowned leaders and speakers.

“Through the activities of ASO and the annual conference, the organization has accelerated reduction in the burden of stroke in Africa through the four pillars of the stroke quadrangle including improved surveillance, prevention, comprehensive care and rehabilitation.

“We are optimistic that the Third African Stroke Organization (ASO) Conference will indeed help to promote brain health in Africa and globally through reduction in the burden of stroke” , Akinyemi said.

This year’s conference featured a vast array of content experts and global leaders in various aspects of stroke research and services.

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