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Stroke Leaders Highlight the Global Cost of Government Inertia

In light of World Stroke Day on October 29th, the World Stroke Organization calls for urgent action and investment to address the growing global burden of stroke and circulatory diseases.

Highlighting the disappointing outcome of last year’s United Nations assembly on non-communicable diseases (NCDs), the president of the World Stroke Organization, Prof. Michael Brainin, stated:

“We know that 80% of strokes could be prevented by addressing a limited number of risk factors, including hypertension, diet, smoking, and lack of physical exercise. We also know that action on prevention would lead to a large-scale reduction in heart diseases, cancer, and diabetes.”

The impact of stroke on individuals, families, and society as a whole is devastating. Those who have suffered a stroke may face significant movement, speech, and cognitive difficulties, along with debilitating psychological, social, and financial problems.

“Given these premises, the current lack of political will and investment cannot be easily understood, especially considering the cost of such inertia. 5.5 million people die each year and another 80 million around the world live with some form of disability or impairment due to stroke. While the costs to individuals are incalculable, the costs to society are astronomical.”

Promoting Sustainable Action for Circulatory Health,” a document published by the World Stroke Organization and its partners in the Global Coalition for Circulatory Health, calculated the global cost of circulatory diseases, including stroke, at $957 billion in 2015. Current projections expect this figure to rise to $1.044 trillion by 2030.

Working Together for Prevention is Essential

The white paper outlines four key areas of action which, if implemented, would ensure the achievement of global goals on reducing diseases that are leading to an increase in direct and indirect costs.

These include legislative interventions that:

  1. Provide policies and programs to address issues like tobacco, alcohol, and unhealthy foods, promote clean air, and create an environment that encourages safe physical activity.
  2. Ensure access to essential medicines at affordable and quality-assured prices, provided by adequately trained personnel, including access to multi-therapy treatments.
  3. Mobilize sufficient resources to combat non-communicable diseases, including stroke. Taxing unhealthy products such as alcohol, tobacco, junk food, and sugary drinks could generate revenues that could be directed towards further prevention and control of circulatory diseases at global and national levels.
  4. Establish reliable, simple, and fit-for-purpose surveillance systems to monitor the burden of stroke and the prevalence of NCD risk factors and stroke treatment at national and global levels.

Prof. Brainin concluded that

“At the United Nations meeting on non-communicable diseases in New York, governments provided a weak response to a global crisis and agreed to wait seven years before reviewing progress. In that time, another 38.5 million people will die from stroke. We cannot wait until 2025 to count our losses, we need strong leadership and bold actions to save lives now.”

To download the document, visit

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