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The 2011 World Stroke Day (WSD)

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  2. The 2011 World Stroke Day (WSD)

It is gratifying to see how rapidly WSD had grown, from a small event with a press release and a call to action, to a truly global event with outreach activities in all major regions, now well recognized by the public and mass media. The WSD ball is rolling, and it has become bigger and bigger. WSD is one of the main activities of the WSO – it is the peak of the World Stroke Campaign, which goes on throughout the year.

Under the banner of ‘1 in 6’ (will get a stroke during lifetime) the 2011 WSD will continue to emphasize three important messages:

  • 1
    stroke can be prevented
  • 2
    stroke can be treated, and
  • 3
    stroke can be managed in the long term.

Recent stroke facts remain grim: there are few signs of declining stroke rates, and risk factors remain undermanaged globally. The challenge to implement acute stroke services in low-to middle-income countries is recognized. The poor status of long-term services for the growing number of stroke victims and carers has more recently come into focus. Base line scenarios, and targets and methods for actions differ with geographical areas – but there is a need for much improvement in all regions. WSO plays an important role in this development.

The 2010 World Stroke Day awards had more than 80 entries, detailed at http://www.worldstrokecampaign.org and in the adjacent editorial by Markku Kaste. These local and regional awareness activities are a core function of the WSD and a gratifying witness of the commitment to stroke, which is needed to transform knowledge into practice. It is well known that awareness campaigns need to be repeated regularly to have a long lasting impact – there is no time for complacency and resting on past laurels, the work must go on.

The WSD should be viewed as part of a bigger whole – the UN high level meeting on non-communicable diseases (stroke, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases) in September 2011, focuses on promoting global action for conditions that have been neglected and threaten economic and human development. The last year has seen the development of close collaboration between non-governmental organizations to promote action in these areas – one of which is stroke. The role of the WSO is more important than ever.

The 2011 WSD messages may sound simple – but they are powerful, we need to use this powerful simplicity to improve public health for stroke.