By Amr A. Akl, BMSc, Medical Student, Kuwait University (left); Brouj Miskin, BMSc, Medical Student and Biomedical Sciences MSc Student, Kuwait University (center); Azzah A. Alrashidi, BMSc, Medical Student, Kuwait University (center); Hamad J. AlKhader, BMSc, Medical Student, Kuwait University (right)
Stroke is one of the most common healthcare-related diseases in modern day medicine. It is ranked as the second most common cause of death and third cause of disability worldwide. Temporal changes in stroke incidence were reported over the previous two decades. Recent statistics indicate that the incidence has decreased in high-income countries, while they increased in low- and middle-income countries. However, in Kuwait, a high-income, developing country, the incidence of reported stroke has increased in the last decade (according to the WHO and UN partners report published in January 2015). Considering this, it was necessary to further advocate this disease at the community level by proceeding with a stroke awareness campaign, with the message that “stroke is treatable.”
The Kuwaiti Ministry of Health, in partnership with Lothan Youth Achievement Center (LOYAC), Kuwait (a non-profit organization which works towards the overall development of the youth) and Kuwait University’s Faculty of Medicine, organized this awareness campaign due to the magnitude of this disease and its implication on society as a whole. The Ministry of Health provided the necessary scientific material and expertise. LOYAC recruited volunteers from the community and provided logistic support for the events under the supervision of Ms. Yusra Al-Essa. While senior medical students and faculty coupled with LOYAC’s employees and volunteers (under the supervision of Dr. Yasser Abulhasan, our consultant neurointensivist), facilitated the 1) brainstorming sessions, 2) planning the various events and 3) executing the campaign. Our main objectives were spreading awareness to the community by discussing stroke risk factors, primary prevention, signs and symptoms and management options, while emphasizing the importance of early intervention and the role of multidisciplinary teamwork in treating complications. It was important and highly productive to involve non-healthcare providers from the start to ensure delivery of a message that would resonate among the public.
Organizational work leading to the outreach campaign started in June 2018. Committees were formed by medical students and LOYAC volunteers to ensure troubleshooting and completion of tasks. The various committees developed the scientific program, identified effective speakers and volunteer personnel, advertised the event in traditional media outlets, movie theaters and modern social media and coordinated the various tasks in hand.
The campaign was launched under the Arabic title أكو وقت؟ which means "Is There Time?" This emphasized to the community the importance of time in the management of stroke patients. Additionally, the Arabic translation of the acronym “FAST” was embedded into the campaign.
To ensure delivery of a unified message, volunteers received lectures and seminars over two days (December 10 and 12, 2018), in the Sheraton Hotel conference rooms, Kuwait City, Kuwait. These seminars discussed the basics of stroke and its management from recognition, to resuscitation, diagnosis, treatment, critical care support, hospitalization, rehabilitation, secondary prevention and living with a stroke patient. Lecture and seminar speakers were: Ameena Al-Rasheed (physiotherapy specialist), Fahad Manee (occupational therapist), Khalid Al-Hassan (consultant stroke neurologist), Mohammad Al-Ameer (speech and language pathologist), Osama Almethen (head of Awareness and Guidance Division, Ministry of Health, Kuwait), Petar Bosnjakovic (consultant neurointerventionalist), Tarik Al-Sheikh (consultant neurosurgeon), Yasser Abulhasan (consultant neurointensivist) and a surviving stroke patient.
On December 22, 2018, a booth was set in the biggest shopping mall in Kuwait, the Avenues. Questions from the general population regarding early signs of stroke recognition, primary and secondary prevention were answered, brochures explaining stroke were distributed, the role of physiotherapy and occupational therapy were explained, emphasizing early rehabilitation and integration at home and basic medical tests, such as blood pressure measurement and BMI calculation, were carried out. Additionally, TV interviews with members from the organizing committees, explaining the goals of the campaign, the importance of healthcare-related awareness campaigns in general and its benefits to the society were aired on the national TV (https://youtu.be/ffvKXIyp9-o). Moreover, during the event, the volunteers further reached out to the community by utilizing social media outlets with posts from the booth. One hundred and eleven volunteers actively participated in the different sections of the booth.
Stroke awareness, through public targeted campaigns is effective in informing the society of this debilitating disease and the need of early recognition of Stroke signs to ensure timely management. We strongly believe that the community, including non-healthcare workers, are essential to the success of a community-based campaign.
Explaining what physiotherapy offers to stroke patients
Is there time?
Mr. Salah Albraidi's speech on his experience with stroke
Part of the organizing committee and volunteers on the second day of lectures
Some of visitors to the campaign booth in the Avenues
The campaign booth in the Avenues
Dr. Osama Almethen delivering his lecture on the initial actions to be taken in a case of stroke, a treatable disease