Neurologists lament stroke incidence, demand government action
– As Bolar Pharma launches NeuroAiD
Neurologists across the country have decried the increasing prevalence of stroke in Nigeria, warning that except urgent, strategic steps are taken by the government and private institutions to halt the progression, the situation may worsen over the next decade, in accordance with the projections of the World Health Organisation (WHO) for lower and middle income countries.
The experts, who came from different teaching hospitals in the country, spoke at the recent launch of NeuroAiD, a new drug produced by Moleac and marketed by Bolar Pharmaceutical in Nigeria, for quick recovery from stroke.
While sharing their different clinical experiences on the treatment of stroke patients, the neurologists discussed ways of devising better methods of treating and managing stroke cases, to enhance reduction in mortality and acquired disability
In his opening remarks at the event, chairman of the occasion, Professor Yomi Ogun, a professor of Internal Medicine/Neurology and consultant physician at the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OACHS), said statistics had shown that one in six persons would come down with stroke, while quickly adding that stroke was preventable with lifestyle modification, weight control, adequate monitoring in diabetics, and a healthy lifestyle.
The consultant physician, who described NeuroAiD as a fantastic drug positioned for quick recovery after neurological damage, lauded Moleac for the rigorous research and painstaking efforts devoted to the production of the neurological recovery drug
On his part, the keynote speaker, Professor W.K Wahab, an associate professor of medicine and consultant neurologist at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH), delivered a paper titled, “Incidence of stroke cases and current treatment strategies in Nigeria”.
Wahab identified hypertension as the dominant predisposing factor to stroke in Nigeria.
He went on to explain that it is not just hypertension but uncontrolled hypertension that leads to majority of stroke cases, adding that it is imperative for every Nigerian adult to check his or her blood pressure at regular intervals to forestall occurrence of stroke.
According to him: “Stroke level is high in Nigeria because we have a dominant risk factor which is hypertension. If you are able to control hypertension, you have been able to cut your risk factor by 40 per cent.
“Another reason for the prevalence of stroke is untreated hypertension, and this usually happens when people refuse to accept their health status as being hypertensive. Unfortunately, by the time they are presenting in the hospital, the damage would have been done already. They would have come down with stroke”.
The medical specialist further listed shortage of personnel and equipment as contributing factors to the high rate of stroke in the country, stating that Nigeria with a population of over 180 million has only 80 neurologists, making it difficult for the specialists to promptly attend to all cases of nervous disorders.
He further noted that many government hospitals lack CT scan, a crucial apparatus in diagnosing stroke patients.
“It is the responsibility of the government to make this available in most hospitals owned by government. There is also the need for manpower development as there is the huge shortage of neurologists in the country,” Wahab said.
Wahab also stated that the absence of Thrombolytic Therapy is another gap that needs to be bridged in Nigeria’s tertiary medical institutions, noting that, currently, no hospital practices it in the country.
“Thrombolytic Therapy is an injection that is usually infused into the brain to burst the clog, that is why is it called the clog-buster. Before the administration of Thrombolytic Therapy, a brain CT scan must be done, to know the level of the damage done to the brain. If there is blood already in the brain of a patient, then Thrombolytic Therapy is not necessary. But it is useful if the CT scan reveals that the patient has only experienced blockage of the blood vessels. CT scan facilities are not readily available in most centres in Nigeria”, he affirmed.
Wahab therefore charged the federal government to ensure the optimal delivery of its obligation of caring for the citizens by funding primary, secondary and tertiary health institutions.
In his words, “If the primary healthcare centres are adequately equipped, it will enhance easy accessibility of medical screening and treatment for hypertensive patients. The same thing goes for secondary and tertiary institutions.”
Pharm. Bolade A. Soremekun, MD/CEO Bolar Pharmaceuticals, hinted the experts on the difference between NeuroAiD and other similar drugs, stating that NeuroAiD consists of a mixture of natural compounds and belongs to a novel class of medicine which are neuro-regenerative and neuro-rehabilitative.
He added that the medication plays a role in the assembling of new circuits of information in the brain to replace the functions lost during a stroke.
Soremekun narrated how Bolar Pharmaceuticals was established in 1984 with the mission to search for, identify, develop, and market new medicines that are effective in disease areas where current treatments are unavailable, ineffective, or unaffordable.
Explaining the discovery of NeuroAiD as a dream come true for them, he said Bolar Pharmaceuticals has six main areas of focus: stroke, hepatitis, sickle cell, immunity, diabetes, and cancer.