LAHORE  -  Speakers at a conference have stressed the need for raising public awareness about symptoms of stroke and befits of early treatment.

They urged the government to fulfill its responsibility to minimize second major cause of disability and death in Pakistan. These views were shared by the neurologists on the first day of 9th National Stroke Conference that kicked off here Saturday in which neurologists from all over the country participated and shared their experiences to treat a stroke patient. The national conference on Stroke was jointly organized by the Pakistan Stroke Society and Pakistan Society of Neurology with a theme that ‘Stroke is Treatable’.

A special workshop was held during the opening day of the conference in which an expert from UK Mrs Paula Brooke imparted training to 50 master trainers nurses of Pakistan who will further train the nurses at different stroke centers of the country. These nurses were trained regarding the handling of a stroke patient in the ICU and emergency. Moreover, over 60 rescuers of 1122 were also given training by an expert from Qatar Dr Naveed Akhtar who gave a detailed briefing to paramedics and rescuers regarding the transfer of a patient to the stoke center in efficient way as recognizing a stroke patient timely is also very crucial.

Speaking on the occasion, President of Stroke Society of Pakistan Prof Qasim Bashir said that ‘we are 20 years behind the modern world in treating a stroke patient and government must play its role in facilitating us to establish modern and well-equipped stroke centers’. “We have no updated data in Pakistan regarding the stroke patients. But according to a research in 2010 there were 3.5 lakh stroke patients in Pakistan and 440 lakhs in America at that time. In America, the figure has decreased to just 8 lakh but in Pakistan stroke patients are rapidly increasing day by day”, he said. He added that a life saving drug named ‘tissue plasminogen activator (tPA)’ that helps in dissolving the clot isn’t available in Pakistan despite the fact that it plays the key role in treatment of a stroke patient. The same drug in America is available since 1996 but here in Pakistan the government is not registering it that is a major hindrance in the treatment, he added.

Dr Ravi Shankar from Karachi said that first 4.5 hours are very crucial for a stroke patient and he can survive if reaches the trauma centre timely. He also stressed establishing the well-equipped stroke centers in the country. President of Pakistan Society of Neurology Prof Nasrullah said that there were only six neurologists when he started his medical practice. The figure has increased since then but these neurologists should be given funds and equipments to treat the patients through modern techniques, he said.

Prof Nadir Ali Syed from Karachi, Dr Ali Hashmi of KEMU, Prof Athar Javed of KEMU and Prof Naeem Kasuri were also present on the occasion. The scientific sessions would also be held today (Sunday) on the second day of the conference.