Boehringer Ingelheim, one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, has officially introduced the Angels initiative in Kenya at a special workshop for doctors in the country. The event took place at a Nairobi hotel and featured medical practitioners in the field of neurology from five hospitals across the country, as well as representatives from the Ministry of Health.
During the workshop, experts focused on the growing burden of stroke across the country. The disease is considered the leading cause of death globally after ischarmic heart disease in 2016. Moreover, attendees also addressed the importance of the development of stroke ready hospitals with optimized processes of care.
To address the burden of stroke worldwide, Boehringer Ingelheim’s Angels initiative aims to improve standards for stroke care across the world. This is done in large part through the betterment of the processes within Stroke-ready hospitals, encompassing functions such as the analysis of gaps in stroke care, benchmarking against best practices, the development of requisite protocols, training for personnel, simulations and access to the wider Angels network. To date, the initiative covers hospitals in 41 countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America.
Suffering a stroke is one of the most devastating medical emergencies that can happen to a person. 17 million people worldwide suffer a stroke every year. One third of these people die as a consequence and another third are left permanently disabled. It is solely responsible for more deaths annually than Aids, tuberculosis and malaria combined. Risk factors for stroke include excessive tobacco use, physical inactivity, an unhealthy diet, harmful use of alcohol, hypertension, obesity, genetic disposition and psychological factors, among others.
Dr Dilraj Sokhi, Chairman of the Neurology Society of Kenya, said: “The burden of stroke in Kenya and in sub-Saharan Africa has been shown to be high and is increasing. Many patients simply do not have access to specialty care in Kenya to help then when they have stroke symptoms, due to a combination of both patient, emergency response, and hospital system factors. For example, symptoms of stroke are not recognized or taken seriously, in-hospital delays in assessment and providing treatment, and the distances patients have to travel to get a to a unit that can provide stroke care. The neurologists and physicians need to work closer together to inform national policy making in order to standardise and improve stroke care. This in turn will also provide a platform for research on the unique risk factors for stroke in our population, and improve outcomes through acute treatments and preventative measures.
“That is why stroke centers play a critical role in mitigating this concern and facilitating the treatment of victims; with this in mind. Our focus is not only driving awareness of best practices in stroke management, but also establishing a network of fully equipped stroke care centers that aim at driving better patient outcomes across Kenya,” added Dr Chrispine Oduor from the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital.
Experts also stressed on the importance of initiating treatment as quickly as possible after onset of symptoms – within 60 minutes after arrival to the hospital, also known as the Golden Hour.
In addition, Ayman Eissa – Head of Human Pharma – Sub-Saharan Africa at Boehringer Ingelheim, said, “Awareness and the establishment of best practices for Stroke management are key to closing the gap when it comes to the treatment of stroke victims. At Boehringer Ingelheim, we are proud to support and enable the creation of a network of stroke-ready hospitals and stroke centers, through the Angels initiative, by improving pathways for the management of acute stroke. Through this initiative, we aspire to support facilities as they develop stroke centers. As a company, we remain committed to our patients in the region and support healthcare professionals by driving the implementation of dedicated stroke care centers across the region.
Knowing the signs of a stroke is the first step to ensuring medical help is received immediately. Symptoms of stroke can include sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arms or legs on one side of the body, as well as speech impairment, trouble with eye sight, loss of balance and a severe headache. Some patients also have an extreme headache that starts suddenly. Experts stress that F.A.S.T is an easy way to remember the sudden signs of stroke, which reflects Face Dropping, Arm Weakness, Speech Difficulty and Time to call for support.