3rd National Stroke Survivors Day 16th March 2021

Ad Adams

12,800- 16000 stroke(NCD) cases are recorded across the country annually. In KATH alone, 800-1000 cases are recorded every year.  In the Bono region Stroke tops all deaths contributing over 19% of the total deaths of NCDs in the region.  30% of stroke deaths in Ghana are link with persons of the age range of 50 years and below.  Major causes of Stroke in Ghana are; Hypertension, Diabetes, , excessive alcohol in take, blood cholesterol, sickle cell anemia, physical inactivity,tobacco smoking  and family history of stroke.

80-90% of strokes (NCD) are preventable. Rapid diagnosis and treatment are critical to survival and reducing disability. Rehabilitation and long-term support improves physical and emotional health and well-being. An integrated, holistic approach to health and care delivers better outcomes.

The economic case for tackling stroke(NCDs) as a priority is compelling. Stroke may cost Ghana’s economy over millions of dollars every year in the next five years if no comprehensive action is taken on prevention and treatment. The projected cost could treble by 2035 if government and the Ghana Health Service fail to act appropriately. However, there are well-evidenced prevention, treatment and rehabilitation interventions that can significantly reduce the impact of stroke on people’s day-to-day lives, and the financial and social burden of stroke on our country.

3 out of 7 persons affected with stroke would die in Ghana as a result of lack of access to standardized stroke treatment and management, post stroke rehabilitation and social support integration.

National Stroke Survivors day was instituted 3 years ago with aim to raise awareness on stroke prevention, Life after stroke interventions and to project the right of persons living with stroke in Ghana as enshrined in the Global Stroke Bill of Right (GSBoR) in the following bullet points; Persons with stroke have the right to receive the best stroke care, Be informed and prepared about Life after Stroke challenges , solutions, and be supported on their road to recovery.

16th March every year is dedicated to commemorate  National Stroke Survivors Day in Ghana. An event which is  spear headed by the Stroke Association Suppportnetwork-Ghana and the African Stroke Organization(ASO), World Stroke Organization(WSO) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service and partners.  This year’s event was held in Sunyani in the Bono region of Ghana. The theme for this year’s event  was ‘’Supporting persons living with stroke and their carers now and beyond COVID19 Era to rebuild the lives”. The event preceded with a Radio discussion on Radio BAR on the 15th of March involving team from Ministry of Health, Health promotion unit led by Mr. Mark Atuahene and leadership of the Stroke survivors of SASNET-GHANA ; Mr. Samuel Sedodo ,national stroke survivors Chairperson, Mr. Kumah Ayeh Bono region stroke survivors chairman and Mr. Ad Adams Ebenezer executive director SASNET-GHANA.

The team further visited Sunyani market and the main station to educate the public on stroke prevention and shared information on adherence to COVID19 protocol to avoid community spread.  A Symposium was held on the 16th of March at the sunyani municipal assembly hall. The Bono regional minister, Hon. Justina representative at the event who read a speech on behalf of the regional minister called on all to acknowledge the fact that, stroke could  affect anyone.  She added that, it’s important to support those affected with stroke in whatever way or means available to us as carers, family members, colleagues and friends.  Mr. Kumah Ayeh, Bono stroke survivors Chairman called on family members to stand with them in this difficult times and understand their condition in a sense that, they didn’t chose to live with stroke, but rather it occurred as an accident. He said, right relationship could help to speed up their recovery. The national Chairperson for person with stroke who doubles as an executive member for SASNET GHANA Mr. Samuel Sedodo made a strong call on government to expand the NHIS to include cost of treatment for stroke, enroll poor members of the stroke survivor network on government LEAP and lastly partners SASNET-GHANA Community Life After Stroke Program in order to reach to persons with stroke in communities where access to rehabilitation is a major challenge. Mrs. Belinda , Ag. Director social welfare Sunyani municipality touched on stroke and disability. She said, post stroke programmes must be available in the communities to improving and empower those with stroke such the post stroke community based rehabilitation CLASP by SASNET GHANA and other Livelihood programmes by government. She pledged her support for the bono stroke survivors’ network. Nana Aboa Boahemma queen mother of Sunyani traditional who represented  chiefs and queen mothers of the traditional area pledged to support   SASNET GHANA  Bono survivors network  members with assistive devices and rehab materials for the CLASP and  called on government to step up Prevention campaigns  and other support interventions  to improve the quality of lives  of those living with stroke in bono region and the country at large  .

According to the Bono regional deputy director in charge of clinical care of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Kwabena  Kumi said out of the 615 stroke cases recorded in 2020, the Sunyani municipality leads with 280 cases followed by Wenchi.

Mr. Mark Kojo Atuahene, acting Head of Public Health and Health Promotion Unit of the MoH, said , government have prioritized concerns of the Persons living with Stroke and gave the assurance that ,the ministry would continue to support them to improve their well-being.

Mr. Atuahene said, MoH would enhance partnership with stakeholders such as the National Health Insurance Authority, SASNET-GHANA and other health centered NGOs to help address challenges facing persons with stroke in Ghana.  Mr. Ad Adams Ebenezer, Executive director of Stroke Association Supportnetwork-Ghana (SASNET-GHANA) said, the nation records between 12,000-16,000 stroke cases annually with diabetes, hypertension, alcoholism and smoking being major contributory causes. He advised the public to desist from stigmatizing and discriminating against people living with stroke rather than support them to seek medical support. Mr. Ad Adams added that, carers ,  family members, Stroke multidisciplinary team must be celebrated for their hard, continues support and role in rebuilding the lives of those affected with stroke and called on government to partner and  support SASNET GHANA’s Community Based Life After Stroke Rehabilitation program aimed to provide rehabilitation support in the hard to reach  communities where access to post stroke rehabilitation is a  challenge for persons living with stroke.

Mr. Ad Adams said, the initiative would make rehabilitation accessible for all especially persons affected with stroke within the communities to leave no one behind. He added that, SASNET GHANA in collaboration with  MoH, GHS and other partners would kick start a nationwide  Community-to-Community awareness campaign on Stroke ,Hypertension and CVD from April 2021 to September 2021.