Gbolahan Balogun

Leading neurologist and stroke expert, Professor Kolawole Wasiu Wahab has warned on the consequences of nonchalant attitudes of individuals and governments in Africa and particularly Nigeria to the rising cases of stroke, a situation he said, is assuming an epidemic proportion.

According to him, stroke is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, and is likely to worsen in developing countries over the next two decades based on the projections by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Delivering the 230th in the series of the University of Ilorin Inaugural Lectures, at the Institution’s auditorium, Wahab painted a worrisome picture of stroke statistics: one in four people worldwide will have a stroke in their lifetime; every minute, six indigenous Africans develop new strokes; every six seconds stroke kills someone; this year alone, 12.2 million people will experience stroke and 6.5 million will not survive.

He said the World Health Organisation projects that 80% of all strokes will occur in developing countries of the world by the year 2030. The reasons for the projected increase he said, have been postulated to be adoption of western lifestyle and transition from infectious to non-infectious diseases.

Coming home, he explained that stroke is fast becoming an epidemic in Nigeria. “The high and escalating burden of the disease is driven by high prevalence of undiagnosed, poorly controlled hypertension and other modifiable risk factors, besides non modifiable risk factors.

“Unfortunately, awareness of stroke warning signs and risk factors is poor, even among those at high risk.

“Mortality from stroke in Nigeria is high and is influenced by presence complications, the most common of which is aspiration pneumonia.

“Also, facilities are lacking in many tertiary hospitals for adequate management of patients with stroke.

“Although thrombolysis and mechanical thrombectomy are established evidence-based treatment modalities for acute ischaemic stroke their application in Nigeria is virtually non-exIstent because of lack of infrastructural backbone for deployment”

The don, immediate past Director of Centre for Research, Development & In-house Training of the university, who incidentally was delivering the first lecture by a neurologist in the Department of Medicine of the university with the title “In the Quest for a Masterstroke for Stroke said, unless conscious efforts were urgently made, the country’s public health could be overstretched, with devastating social and economic consequences.

To reduce the high and escalating burden of stroke in Nigeria Professor Wahab recommended what he called actionable actions at the individual, population and system levels.

At the individual level, he advised that people should regularly check their blood pressures and note that hypertension is the dominant modifiable risk factor for stroke but could be controlled by religiously using antihypertensive medications by those with hypertensive cases. “Additionally, in order to keep your blood pressure normal, eat healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, reduce salt intake, exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight”, he said.

At the population level, he recommended massive health education on stroke risk factors, warning signs and prevention, especially through the mass media, while concerted should be made to screen the populace for stroke risk factors.

On the part of government, the don recommended among others, a universal health coverage through adequate health insurance to improve access to potent medications to treat hypertension and other treatable cardiovascular risk factors.

He also advised Government to adequately equip the tertiary hospitals so that they would be able to deliver state-of-the-art healthcare services to those who may require stroke care.

The lecture by Professor Wahab, the immediate past Director,  Centre for Research, Development and In-house Training of the university and, a former recipient of the university's honour of Researcher of the Year attracted a  blend of town and gown with  audience from far and near. 

















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