Stroke – a closer look at the silent menace

An insidious threat quietly persists, exerting its influence on lives in manners that are both deeply impactful and heart-wrenching. This imperceptible foe is none other than ‘stroke’, and it has risen to prominence as a formidable public health concern in Ghana. In this article, we embark on a journey to understand stroke from a public health perspective and unveil the strategies to combat this formidable foe with a touch of wit and wisdom.

The silent menace

Stroke, often referred to as a ‘brain attack’, is a sudden disruption of blood supply to the brain, leading to damaged brain tissue. It comes unannounced, like an uninvited guest, striking with a vengeance that leaves lives altered forever. In Ghana, stroke is not just a medical condition; it’s a formidable adversary that affects individuals, families and communities.

The unseen culprit

Stroke, like a master of disguise, often operates under the radar. It doesn’t discriminate, affecting both the young and old, rich and poor. The reasons for its prevalence in Ghana are multi-faceted, with hypertension reigning as the top risk factor. The growing adoption of urban lifestyles, sedentary jobs, and unhealthy dietary choices have propelled high blood pressure to the forefront of Ghana’s health woes.

Silent killer, louder consequences

The consequences of stroke are far from silent. They resonate through families, communities and the healthcare system. Stroke survivors often face physical disabilities, cognitive impairments and emotional challenges. The burden is not just on the individuals, but also on the caregivers and the society at large. The economic impact of stroke is significant, with families struggling to meet medical expenses and individuals losing their livelihoods.

The public health perspective

Now that we’ve met the foe, let’s don the public health cap and delve into the strategies to tackle stroke in Ghana.

Educate and elevate

Education is the first line of defense against stroke. Public health campaigns must be as ubiquitous as the vibrant kente cloth, spreading awareness about stroke risk factors and prevention. Ghanaians need to know that hypertension is a ticking time bomb, and lifestyle changes can defuse it. Let’s elevate the importance of regular blood pressure checks and healthy diets, making it as common as sharing a plate of jollof rice.

Primary prevention: Taming the risk factors

Like a farmer tending to his cocoa trees, Ghanaians must tend to their health. Primary prevention involves addressing the root causes of stroke. Encouraging physical activity, promoting a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and discouraging tobacco use are all essential components of this strategy. Let’s make physical activity as popular as Azonto dance, and let’s replace sugar-laden drinks with the refreshing taste of coconut water.

Accessible healthcare for all

Just as the cocoa bean should be accessible to every farmer, healthcare should be accessible to every Ghanaian. The government must prioritise the establishment of healthcare infrastructure in rural areas, ensuring that stroke care is available beyond the city limits. Telemedicine can also be a powerful tool, bringing expertise to remote areas where stroke care is scarce.

Rehabilitation and support

Stroke survivors need support and rehabilitation. Let’s create a network of rehabilitation centres equipped with skilled professionals – from physiotherapists to speech therapists. The power of community support groups cannot be underestimated either, as they provide a safe space for survivors and their families to share experiences and encouragement.

Empower the healthcare workforce

Our healthcare workforce is like a team of footballers ready to score goals against stroke. Continuous medical education and training in stroke management must be a priority. Specialised stroke units in hospitals can streamline care while ambulance services need to be strengthened to ensure timely access to care, just as a fisherman needs a sturdy net to bring in the day’s catch.

Reduce salt intake, not flavour

Salt is a culinary staple in Ghana, but excessive salt consumption contributes to high blood pressure. Chefs and food producers can play a vital role in reducing salt in Ghanaian dishes while preserving the delicious flavours. Let’s make ‘less salt’ our secret ingredient, ensuring that our meals are not just tasty, but heart healthy.

Tackle health inequities

Health inequities are like thorny bushes in the path to good health. Let’s clear them away by addressing social determinants of health, such as poverty, education and access to clean water. By ensuring that healthcare is equitable and accessible to all, we can make a significant dent in the stroke statistics.

Stroke is a quiet threat in Ghana, but it is not unbeatable. Ghana can defeat this powerful opponent with a well-planned public health strategy. The cornerstones of this fight are awareness, prevention, easily available healthcare, and support for survivors. By working together, we can make stroke as uncommon as discovering a four-leaf clover in Ghana’s verdant fields. It’s time to put on our public health armour and advance, equipped with wisdom, wit and will to finally defeat stroke in Ghana.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any organisation.

>>>I’ll be your wingman on your health journey! The writer is a public health professional with a Master’s degree from the University of Illinois at Springfield, USA and works as a Medical Fraud Analyst at the Illinois Office of Inspector-General. He founded GD Consult in Ghana to promote healthy lifestyles and developed innovative projects, such as a Health Risk Assessment Model for hydraulic fracking operations. He can be reached via godson.davies@yahoo.com

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published.

You might also like