DATO SERI SETIA DR HAJI ZULKARNAIN BIN HAJI HANAFI
MINISTER OF HEALTH
ON THE OCCASION OF WORLD STROKE DAY 2017
29 October 2017
THEME: "WHAT IS YOUR REASON FOR PREVENTING STROKE"
1. Stroke is a major cause of disability and death worldwide. Globally, 17 million people suffered from stroke with about 6.5 million of them dying from the disease every year. It is also a major cause of disability with 5 million worldwide sustaining permanent disabilities. In Brunei Darussalam, stroke is the fourth leading cause of death with 123 deaths in 2016.
2. Stroke can happen to anyone at any age, and impacts everyone. As much as 1 in 6 people will suffer a stroke in their lifetime. In Brunei Darussalam, there are more than 300 cases of stroke every year. While the majority of these are suffered by people aged 65 and older, about 10 percent happens to those under the age of 45. This also means that the lives of more than 300 families including survivors, spouses and children are affected by stroke. With all these bleak statistics, it falls upon us to reflect on this disease; to understand its impact and what we can do to prevent them. This is what the theme for this year's World Stroke Day, "What's your reason for preventing stroke?" is urging everyone to do.
3. A stroke is essentially a brain attack, where blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. Without blood, brain cells can be damaged or die. The effects of stroke can be devastating to a survivor's body, where a person's mobility and speech can be greatly affected, as well as how they think and feel. All these changes can happen very suddenly and how severe it is depends on which part of the brain is affected as well as how quickly the person was treated. Some survivors of strokes recover fully but at least two thirds do not.
4. So what can we do to prevent stroke? Knowing risk factors for stroke and taking necessary actions to control them is everyone's responsibility. Having a high blood pressure, diabetes, high blood cholesterol and history of heart problems will increase your chances of having a stroke. If you have any of these risk factors, talk to your doctor about preventative treatments. On the other hand, by practicing a healthy lifestyle, one can reduce their risk of getting a stroke. This includes being physically active and exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet high in fruit and vegetable, reduce consumption of salt, maintain a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) and quit smoking.
5. In the emergency event when stroke does happen, catching the signs and getting early treatment is vital. The earlier the treatment, the better the outcome. When you experience or see the signs of stroke, call an ambulance immediately. The FAST test is an easy way for everyone to remember and recognize the signs of stroke: F (Face) – face drooping or weakness on one side, A (Arm) – weakness in arms, S (Speech) – trouble speaking or understanding. Jumbled or mumbled words, T (Time) - Act quickly and seek immediate medical attention and call the ambulance.
6. Let us work together to raise awareness and take action to prevent stroke from claiming the lives and the independence of our families, friends and loved ones. Practicing a healthy lifestyle and recognising stroke signs early can save many lives. In line with our three strategic priorities - to enhance the quality of service delivery, prevent and control non-communicable diseases, and to inculcate that health is everyone's business; the Ministry of Health will continue to work closely with all stakeholders including the Brunei Neuroscience, Stroke Rehabilitation Centre, Pantai Jerudong Specialist Centre and strengthen the engagement with patients and the public to prevent, control and treat the occurrence of stroke in Brunei Darussalam. Let us all share the stroke prevention awareness and together work towards preventing stroke.