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Concerns showed over high prevalence of stroke in Pakistan

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The experts at the international seminar have expressed serious concerns over the high prevalence of stroke in Pakistan, and Low and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs), and said that stroke was the leading cause of chronic disability and a leading cause of mortality worldwide.

There are 5.9 million annual deaths worldwide are associated with stroke only, while hypertension and smoking were the most prevalent risk factors for the fatal disease, they said, adding that there is an urgent need to improve awareness of risk factors and implement healthy lifestyle habits, especially in Pakistan.

These scholars were speaking at the COMSTECH-ICCBS International Seminar on ‘Improving Stroke Care in Low and Middle-Income Countries’ held at the LEJ National Science Information Center, International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), University of Karachi on Monday evening. The seminar was jointly organized by COMSTECH and ICCBS – University of Karachi.

Prof. Dr. M. Iqbal Choudhary, Director of the International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences, and COMSTECH Coordinator General, Dr. Mohammad Wasay, Professor at the Aga Khan’s Section of Neurology, Department of Medicine, Iranian scholar Dr. Mehdi Farhoudi, Dr. Ashfaq Shuaib, Professor at the University of Alberta, Canada, and Dr. Maria Khan from Rashid Hospital, Dubai, spoke on the occasion.

Prof. Iqbal Choudhary informed the participants that this seminar was designed to draw attention to the burden of stroke in low and middle-income countries.

Talking about COMSTECH, he said that the core mandate of COMSTECH was to strengthen cooperation among the OIC Member States in science and technology (S&T). It aims to draw up programs and initiatives to develop the capabilities of the least-developed Muslim countries in science and technology (S&T) through inter-Islamic cooperation, he maintained.

He mentioned the major programs which COMSTECH had initiated for science and technology and healthcare research for the capacity of OIC African countries.

Prof. Mohammad Wasay said, “Increased stroke incidence is largely associated with aging and urbanization and propelled by the increasing prevalence of key risk factors, especially in LMICs, including, inactivity, obesity, dietary factors, diabetes, smoking, hyperlipidemia, and hypertension. He said that screening for stroke risk factors provided an excellent opportunity to identify and educate those at high risk.

Dr. Mehdi Farhoudi said that the situation pertaining to the burden of stroke was worse in LMICs than High-Income Countries (HICs).

Dr. Ashfaq Shuaib pointed out, “Stroke remains the leading cause of chronic disability and death in LMICs.”

He emphasized the need for coordination of care and development of stroke units and rehabilitation programs in the public sector and said that the establishment of stroke units should be a national priority.

The promotion of healthy dietary habits, physical activities, and provision of access to clean air are some suggestions for reducing the burden of stroke in LMICs, he said.

Dr. Maria Khan, in her presentation on “Stroke in Women”, said that worldwide, stroke incidence, prevalence, and mortality were higher in men than women in developing countries, except in the Middle East and North Africa, where women have higher stroke mortality.

“Access to secondary prevention and to rehabilitation is worse for women compared to men,” she said.

In the end, a panel discussion on the same issue was held, in which Dr. Abdul Malik, Liaquat University of Medicine and Dentistry, Dr. Fowzia Siddiqi, Aga Khan University, Dr. Ossama Yassin, Egypt, Dr. Mehdi Farhoudi, and Dr. Husnain Hashim, Fouji Foundation hospital, participated.

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