World Stroke Day
World Stroke Day is observed on October 29 to underscore the serious nature and high rates of stroke, raise awareness of the prevention and treatment of the condition, and ensure better care and support for survivors. On this day, organizations around the world have facilitated events emphasizing education, testing, and initiatives to improve the damaging effects of stroke worldwide. The annual event was started in 2006 by the World Stroke Organization(WSO)and the WSO declared stroke a public health emergency in 2010. The WSO now has an ongoing campaign that serves as a year-round interface for advocacy, policy, and outreach to support strides and continue progress made on World Stroke Day.
Stroke has been and continues to be a widespread disease worldwide, afflicting over 15 million people each year. Of those 15 million, almost six million die and a further five million are left permanently disabled. A new person suffers a stroke every six seconds. The idea to create a day of awareness began in the 1990s with the European Stroke Initiative. Due to financial limitations, however, the effort was limited only to Europe. The European Stroke Organization continued the project, and celebrates its awareness day on May 10. The WSO World Stroke Day began in 2004 at the World Stroke Congress in Vancouver, Canada. Under the direction of Dr. Vladimir Hachinski, a working group was formed, which was incorporated into a World Stroke Proclamation in October 2006. Around the same time, the International Stroke Society and the World Stroke Federation merged to form the World Stroke Organization, which took over the management of World Stroke Day.
In 2009, WSO leadership turned the day into a year-round campaign to sustain efforts at prevention and awareness raising. In 2010, the WSO launched the "1 in 6" campaign that became the overarching theme for the future campaigns. "Because I care…" was chosen in 2012 as the World Stroke Day slogan and carried on to this year's campaign. It attempts to address prevailing misinformation about the disease.
Past and Current Campaigns
2007 and 2008
The theme for World Stroke Day 2007 was "Stroke is a treatable and preventable catastrophe and hypertension is its most common and treatable factor." The theme for World Stroke Day 2008 was "Little strokes, big trouble."
In 2009, World Stroke Day became a year-round campaign to sustain efforts at prevention and awareness raising. The campaign was entitled "Stroke, what can I do?," asking individuals to examine what they could do about stroke. It included a competition to create a message related to the theme. The 2009 winner was the National Stroke Association of Sri Lanka, which organized a series of media conferences, promotional materials, and training programs.
More than eighteen countries participated in WSD activities. Among them were Sri Lanka and Australia, which created the "StrokeSafe" awards, Saudi Arabia, which organized a week of public education activities, and Brazil, where healthcare professionals distributed educational materials in a public square. Also in 2009, the Mongolian Stroke Association was formed in response to increasing levels of stroke in the country and joined the WSO in 2010.
In 2010, the "1 in 6" campaign was launched to emphasize that one in six people will have a stroke within their lifetime and to underline the fact that stroke can happen to anyone of any age. Therefore, everyone should take up the responsibility to learn more about stroke and to spread stroke related information. Forty-eight countries participated in this extensive campaign. The Indian Stroke Association announced its decision to sponsor two hundred ‘Stroke Units,’ or centers across India that will be equipped to treat strokes. A Malawian nurse wrote an article describing the campaign, hoping to spread awareness of the disease to Malawi. In the United States, the American Heart Association developed the My-Life Check online health assessment in cooperation with World Stroke Organization.
On World Stroke Day 2011, the World Stroke campaign completed its first year of a full campaign. World Stroke Day 2011 was a huge success with over 2,000 participants from all over the world. It gained recognition from over 20 online publications in several languages. The global reach of World Stroke Day 2011 was a step up from 2010 with increased participation came from Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and South America. World Stroke Day 2011 received increased response in the media with coverage in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Chinese, and many other languages. The day gained recognition across various fields like health, business, and technology and in publications such as the International Herald Tribune. WSD also received special attention in Brazil as the Minister of Health created a video in recognition of the day. Additionally, players from Brazilian football clubs Ceará and Flu wore shirts and carried signs, in a match attended by President Vargas, in support of stroke awareness. World Stroke Day 2011 drew global response through both the WSD Twitter and WSD Facebook
In 2012, the Slogan "Because I care… " was launched. It was chosen as it can easily be adapted to all cultures and in any setting. The campaign asks people to commit to six stroke challenges:
- Know your personal risk factors: high blood pressure, diabetes, and high blood cholesterol.
- Be physically active and exercise regularly.
- Maintain a healthy diet high in fruit and vegetable and low in salt to stay a healthy state and keep blood pressure low.
- Limit alcohol consumption.
- Avoid cigarette smoke. If you smoke, seek help to stop now.
- Learn to recognize the warning signs of a stroke and how to take action.
In 2013, the "Because I care" slogan is again used alongside the overarching theme of the World Stroke Campaign: "1 in 6". The campaign attempts to address prevailing misinformation about the disease. It encourages everyone, regardless of cultural background, to think of his/her responsibilities, whether it is to be equipped with stroke prevention information, to correct previous misunderstandings about stroke, or to learn more for family members who are at risk or survivors of strokes. It also celebrates the contributions of the care givers, who are the conduits between the stroke community and the general public as well as an important channel for disseminating correct information. The campaign built extensive collaborations with local organizations around the world and received successful media coverage both internationally and locally.
The campaign was observed in more than 70 countries, from Sweden to Mongoli with coverage in over 23 languages, from Urdu to Flemish. It was featured in over 700 newspaper articles and over 50 TV broadcasts. A diverse range of events were held to raise stroke awareness. The National Stroke Association of Malaysia held a "Hope Walk" in Kuala Lumpur. The "WSC Initiative Mexico 2013" was formed with the collaboration of the Mexican Academy of Neurology (AMN), the Mexican Association of Cerebrovascular Disease (AMEVASC), the National Health Authorities and the help of over 50 medical associations and institutions in Mexico. Health talk shows were held in both English and local language in Nigeria. In Peru, a parade was held. In the US, The American Heart Association launched an iPhone app for stroke prevention. In Sri Lanka, a musical group FLAME held a concert to celebrate World Stroke Day. In Sweden, a TV series with a Swedish comedian on tour promoting stroke knowledge was aired. Numerous other activities also took place around the world in a joint effort to raise stroke awareness and improve care quality.
Beyond World Stroke Day, the World Stroke Campaign continues to serve as a source for activism and policy resources worldwide. Through advances in research, and communications at the international level, WSC strives to promote advocacy towards making stroke less of a global threat. The 1 in 6 campaign initiative hopes to provide as much crucial information about preventing stroke and important lifestyle changes that could greatly reduce the risk of stroke attacks.
More updates on the World Stroke Campaign 2013 can be found at: Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/worldstrokecampaign Twitter: https://twitter.com/WStrokeCampaign/status/477438429626368
World Stroke Campaign Committee
The World Stroke Campaign Committee consists of the following experts:
- Erin Lalor, PhD, WSC Chair, National Stroke Foundation, Australia
- Stephen Davis,MD, FRCP, Edin FRACP, WSO President and Director, Melbourne Brain Centre at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, University of Melbourne, Australia
- Bo Norrving, MD, PhD, WSO Immediate Past-President, Professor, Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Lund University, Sweden
- Rufus Akinyemi MBBS, MSc, MWACP, FMCP, Federal Medical Centre Abeokuta, Nigeria
- Markku Kaste, MD, PhD, FAHA, FESO, WSC Past Chairman, University of Helsinki, Finland
- Patrice Lindsay, RN, PhD, WSC Director, Heart and Stroke Foundation, Canada
- Sheila Cristina Ouriques Martins, MD, PhD, Hospital Moinhos de Vento and Hospital de Clinicals de Porto Alegre, Brazil
- Meredith Nguyen, MSPT, MBA, Director, American Stroke Association, USA
- Jeyaraj D. Pandian, MD, DM, FRACP, WSC Immediate Past-Chair, Christian Medical College, Ludhiana, India
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- Kaste, Markku and Bo Norrving. "From the World Stroke Day to the World Stroke Campaign: one in six: act now!" International Journal of Stroke 5 no 5 (2010): 342-343.
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