On World Stroke Day (29 October 2022), the World Stroke Organization (WSO) has announced the launch of a new programme that aims to drive access to quality acute stroke care and save lives around the world.
The WSO Stroke Certification initiative is a strategic response to the results of a World Health Organization (WHO)-WSO survey, which found that less than half (49%) of countries could provide comprehensive, evidence-based acute stroke care. The survey also identified a “huge gap” in provision of care in high- versus low- and middle-income countries. While 91% of high-income countries were able to provide access to specialist stroke unit care, the number was just 8% in low-income countries.
Two of the fundamental markers of quality acute stroke care are the provision of intravenous thrombolysis (IVT) and mechanical thrombectomy, also known as endovascular therapy (EVT). Research published by the WSO found global rates of access to these treatments stand at 46% and 30%, respectively.
“One in four of us will have a stroke in our lifetime, yet the majority of people globally lack access to effective treatment and stroke centre care,” said WSO president Marc Fisher (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, USA). “On top of this, a lack of effective global prevention strategies has led us to a place where stroke is the second leading cause of death and the third leading cause of disability worldwide, with a soaring human and economic cost.”
Incoming WSO president Sheila Martins (Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre, Porto Alegre, Brazil) added: “We have the knowledge and tools that could save millions of lives and hundreds of millions of dollars. Delivering quality stroke care is not just the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do.”
As per a press release, the WSO’s Global Stroke Guidelines and Action Plan aim to help institutions and governments implement evidence-based criteria and standards for care developed by the organisation. Initially targeting hospitals in middle-income countries, the programme will be launched on 1 November 2022 with the primary aim of growing the global network of accredited stroke care providers.
The public can follow the campaign on social media using #Precioustime and help raise awareness by sharing a clock selfie or participating in the strokespotter.org online game challenge.