Yesterday, I was privileged to represent ID Africa and participate in a meeting on ‘Music for Acute Stroke Literacy (MASL)’ at the National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Yaba, Lagos, and I can honestly say it is the most eye opening session I’ve been a part of this year.
The session was put together by NIMR in collaboration with Saint Louis University, Columbia University, and New York University Health School of Medicine.
In my over 3 decades of walking the dusty roads in Nigeria, I have heard and seen victims of stroke, even among very close family members, but I had never gotten full scope of the terminal ailment like I did during Tuesday’s highly engaging session.
There has been much talk and concern over the mass exodus of young medical practitioners from Nigeria, and yesterday, I was a witness to how some of our best brains in the medical field are doing great things abroad.
The MASL session was convened by Dr. Chizoba, an amiable neurosurgeon performing lifesaving surgeries in the United States. Dr. Chizoba and three other Nigerian doctors in America, led by Dr. Olajide Williams, have embarked on a stroke awareness program for young people in the ghetto, using hip-hop music as a channel. In fact, they have involved legendary hip-hop rapper and producer, Doug E. Fresh, in achieving their goal of sensitizing young people on the danger of stroke, through music. This, they hope to replicate in Nigeria.
It wasn’t until yesterday that I got to know that stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide; behind heart disease. And that it mostly affects people of colour. As a matter of fact, according to Dr. Chizoba, researchers have said stroke mortality will triple in Sub-Saharan Africa. Now, considering how the medical expert gave vivid explanation on how Nigeria does not have the equipment to expertly treat stroke patients, that’s scary.
Here are some of the key points the good doctor made during the session:
Stroke is caused by an infection in the brain:
Yes, it involves a partial collapse of the brain. He describes it as a brain injury caused when a blood vessel to the brain becomes blocked or bursts, cutting off blood flow and oxygen to the brain.
A part of the body becomes paralysed:
As is common knowledge. Plus, he made it very clear that there is nothing like ‘partial stroke’. Stroke is stroke, period.
It is the second leading cause of death worldwide, behind heart disease:
Not gon’ lie, I was quite surprised to hear this. I won’t bore you with the stats; He actually said that the stats available for stroke patients in Nigeria are suspect for many reasons.
Experts say it affects mostly people of colour:
Yep, also quite surprising. He mentioned something about the genes being responsible for this.
Research says stroke mortality will triple in Sub-Saharan Africa:
This is maybe not as surprising, but scary, considering the level of technological advancement. In the good doctor’s words, “advanced brain surgery does not happen in Nigeria”.
It is expensive to treat:
Veeeeery expensive. He couldn’t even give a specific figure in terms of monetary value. He could only say insurance and good government policies are the lifesaver for many Americans. He also mentioned something about the US government spending about a trillion Naira equivalent on the treatment of stroke patients annually.
Prevention: Regular Exercise, BP Control, Quit Smoking, Lose Excess Weight, Consume Less Sodium (salt), Eat Healthy
Need I say here: Dr. Chizoba emphasised on the need for you to quit smoking!
Symptoms to watch out for: Arm Weakness, Speech Difficulty, Face Drooping, Blurred Vision, Seizure, Dizziness
Yep, when you notice these signs in people around you, call an emergency line.
Actually, because you are in Nigeria, raise an alarm!
I’m now really looking forward to the kick off of the doctors’ stroke awareness program, using music, in Nigeria.