Leading international pharmaceutical company, Boehringer Ingelheim, has launched the Angels Initiative, a fully funded stroke-awareness and care initiative aimed at making South Africa’s hospitals stroke-ready.

The global Angels Initiative aims to increase stroke awareness and education across South Africa’s diverse communities and to provide best practice guidance, training and equipment to healthcare professionals, standardising the availability and quality of stroke-readiness and care within South Africa’s hospitals.

“In South Africa, 1 in 3 people diagnosed with acute stroke will die and 1 in 4 will be left with a life-changing disability. Many of these patients may have been saved and gone on to live lives free from disability if they had received appropriate care in a stroke-ready facility better equipped to deal with this life-threatening medical emergency,” said General Manager at Boehringer Ingelheim South Africa, Tim Snell.

Stroke is the second leading cause of mortality and leading cause of disability in South Africa. In 2014, over 23,000 South Africans lost their lives due to a stroke, with one person diagnosed every six minutes, according to Emergency Physician at Wits University and member of the Angels Initiative Steering Committee, Dr Feroza Motara.

Despite the estimated 132,000 strokes a year occurring in South Africa, stroke care is inadequate for current patient needs, added Dr Motara. Dr Motara says there’s an immediate need for an updated approach and clinical interventions in diagnosis, treatment, care and rehabilitation of stroke patients.

“Our burden of risk factors for stroke is among the highest in the world. This initiative, with its full scientific and financial backing is of paramount importance to the future health of South Africans, where heart disease and stroke incidence often affects adults in their most productive years,” said Dr Motara.

“The high economic costs of stroke, including escalated staff turnover and absenteeism, impact greatly on productivity and add to the already unsustainable economic burden on our healthcare system,” continued Dr Motara.

The Angel Initiative was launched last year to representatives from 40 private and 10 government hospitals, as well as head office representatives of various cardiovascular and stroke-focused organisations. With the goal to register 165 stroke-ready units across the country by November 2019, the Angels Initiative has set the tone for a simplified, co-ordinated approach to stroke care in South Africa.

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