“Stroke is one of Nepal's heaviest health burdens...Is it the responsibility of the people, the country they reside or the world? Very few people or organizations want to undertake responsibility for this burden and unless the concerned authority deals with this burden, stroke will remain and continue to become the biggest burden of the future.
These words were written in 2011 by Dr. Lekhjung Thapa, one of the first neurologists of Nepal. Since then, stroke care in Nepal has fortunately improved considerably - and this is particularly attributable to the relentless efforts of the Nepal Stroke Association, a member of the World Stroke Organization. Still, stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in Nepal. Lack of awareness about risk factors and stroke symptoms in the population, low availability of centers offering stroke treatment and high costs of therapy are some of the barriers to delivering stroke care in the country.
A pioneering nationwide initiative
The Nepal Stroke Project is the first ever national initiative in Nepal aimed at improving stroke care across the stroke pathway. The project is a cooperation between the Nepal Stroke Association and the University of Heidelberg, Department of Neurology, Angels’ Initiative and Hospital Partnerships.
The project has ambitions to:
· Establish nationwide stroke-ready hospitals
· Raise public awareness of strokes
· Implement a national stroke registry
· Achieve financing of stroke care in the public health system of Nepal
The project’s approach is to strengthen existing health structures in different areas of Nepal. Therefore, the project participants utilize the WSO’s Roadmap to Delivering Quality Stroke Care as an implementation resource to assess gaps in stroke care and to address the existing needs. Approximately 15 hospitals (in the Kathmandu Valley and in each of the seven provinces) will receive training in acute and post-acute stroke care to become a stroke-ready hospital in near future. In addition to establishing treatment standards according to the WSO guidelines, the focus will be on establishing performance measures and encouraging continuous quality monitoring. The aim is to develop an evidence-based concept for quality stroke care in a country with limited resources.
Alongside improving access to stroke treatment, the project recognises the need to raise public awareness of risk factors, signs of stroke and emergency response. In a setting, where stroke care is sometimes seen as a financial burden rather than a help, it is important not only to spread the word about the effectiveness of stroke treatment but also to educate the public about primary prevention. On the occasion of World Stroke Day, the Nepal Stroke Association proudly celebrated the beginning of the campaign with many educational events and a "walkathon" under the slogan #precioustime. And many more events to follow!
For more information:
Nepal Stroke Association: http://www.strokenepal.org
Nepal Stroke Project: https://nepalstrokeproject.org