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Improving Stroke Systems of Care in LMIC: Philippines
The Philippines is an archipelagic nation with 7,100 islands. With over 109 million Filipinos living in the country, only 5% are aged 65 and above. Stroke remains the leading cause of disability and death in the Philippines. Estimates of the true stroke prevalence vary between 0.9% to 2.6% of the population.
The identified barriers to stroke care included lack of health care resources, maldistribution of health facilities, inadequate training on stroke treatment among health care workers, poor stroke awareness, insufficient government support and limited health insurance coverage. Contributing further to this challenge are the geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas limiting access to health facilities.
The Stroke Society of the Philippines (SSP) in cooperation with the Department of Health and the World Stroke Organization launched the nationwide stroke education training to doctors and nurses on acute stroke treatment, setting up Acute Stroke Ready Hospitals and Acute Stroke Units. Thrombolysis training and simulation coupled with adaptation of standard stroke protocols improved the stroke time lines. Identification of stroke referral centers, setting up of stroke registry and the ongoing stroke unit certification will utilize data to assess, monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment and referral pathways. Stroke awareness and healthy lifestyle campaigns involved the public participation for the prevention and rapid stroke response. The SSP’s strong linkage with the government paved the way to the passage of the National Stroke Policy for prevention, treatment and management of stroke. These consolidate and strengthen the efforts for improving stroke care in the country.