Jamaica’s Health Ministry commits to establishing dedicated Stroke Units. Much needed!

I can honestly say that I only had a vague idea of what happens when someone has a stroke – – until my husband had one, just about six months ago. What is more (compounding the shock of the stroke diagnosis itself) we did not recognise the symptoms at all. Our first instinct was that it might be COVID. A COVID test proved negative. Then, what was it? Meanwhile, we were wondering: Why was he walking funny, tilting over to one side? Why was his eyesight so bad that he was seeing double, or triple? Why did he have such a bad headache, and dizziness?

When we walked down to our friendly neighbourhood pharmacy (my poor husband barely made it) our young, dedicated pharmacist – who has become part of our health support team over the past year or two – took my husband’s blood pressure. It was sky high. Go straight to the hospital, he advised. A long and extremely stressful night followed, during which the stroke was immediately and quickly diagnosed. We were in shock.

After a few days in hospital, bringing his blood pressure (and blood sugar, since he is diabetic) down to reasonable levels, he came back home, and our lives changed. He has to rest a lot; always a very active person, he now says jokingly, “I can only last three hours” running errands and the like. He has a host of different medications – including eye drops. He has physio sessions and exercises at home. But we are just thankful that he is alive and 99.9 percent his normal self.

That’s our personal “stroke story,” and I am sure there are many others, all different and depending on circumstances. I can only say that we are thankful, and to specific people (here I am going to mention names and embarrass them): Dr. Terry Baker, who cared for my husband in hospital and is now our family doctor; Dane, our pharmacist at 80 Lady Musgrave Road; “Auntie Pat,” the sweetest (and strictest) physiotherapist in town; the emergency doctors and all the nursing staff at Andrews Memorial Hospital in Kingston; and our fantastic and ever-supportive group of neighbours as well as other friends and family!

A simple “thank you” is not enough. They are super professionals and kind human beings!

So, I was very pleased to hear that our Health and Wellness Minister Christopher Tufton has committed to opening three dedicate Stroke Units at Kingston Public Hospital, the University Hospital of the West Indies, and Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay, in partnership with the Jamaica Stroke Alliance – at an ongoing meeting in São Paulo, Brazil. Please see the press release below, and note that stroke is the leading cause of death in Jamaica (I had no idea). I plan to share the Minister’s speech with you in a later post.

This sounds like a ridiculous slogan, because it rhymes – but I can assure you: Stroke is no joke.

Health Minister to address Global Stroke Alliance Meeting in Brazil

Minister committing to establish dedicated Stroke Units

KINGSTON, Jamaica. Tuesday, August 9, 2022: Minister of Health & Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton will represent Jamaica at the Third (III) Latin American Ministerial Meeting on Stroke in Sao Paulo, Brazil. This is being held as part of the Global Stroke Alliance Meeting, which will run from Wednesday, August 10 to Saturday, August 13, 2022.

In 2021 over 7,300 Jamaicans had a stroke – with a third or over 2,400 deaths, making strokes the leading cause of death in the country. In response, Dr. Tufton has committed to partnering with Jamaica’s Stroke Alliance to establish at least three Stroke Units in the country over the next year. These units will focus on stroke prevention and minimize long term effects caused by strokes

The three-day meeting, organized by the World Stroke Organization in conjunction with other institutions, will be geared towards stimulating a global alliance to improve stroke care worldwide and the general situation of stroke in Latin America.

Best strategies for implementing evidence-based interventions at all levels of the care continuum (prevention, treatment, rehabilitation) for stroke; as well as presentations from each of the invited Latin American Countries, will form part of the feature presentations of the meeting.

Dr. Tufton will deliver special remarks on day two of the conference, where his presentation will address the state of stroke in Jamaica, healthcare delivery, the vision for the future of care and a plan to establish dedicated stroke centres in Jamaica.

This year’s meeting will have in attendance representation from over 25 countries; eight Ministers of Health and more than 100 national and international guests.

Minister of Health and Wellness Christopher Tufton (left) with his Brazilian counterpart, Marcelo Queiroga, at the third Latin American Ministerial on Stroke in São Paulo, Brazil. (Photo: Ministry of Health and Wellness)

3 thoughts on “Jamaica’s Health Ministry commits to establishing dedicated Stroke Units. Much needed!

  1. Well my dear friend; what an unexpected chapter of life you were given. Through the help of sensitive and gifted people in the medical field, your husband has ‘dodged’ what might have been a much-worse chapter and is recovering. Many of those symptoms were like my own from long ago (in the 1990’s) – especially seeing double – and eventually the trigger was discovered – Aspartame. Before deciphering through the mystery, the scary possibilities were ruled out – brain tumor, aneurysm, etc… When seeking a correct diagnosis, those long waits for the tests and their results can be sobering – and also exhausting. I am so glad that your husband is recovering well – and he surely cherishes that you are there by his side with loving support (and concern.)

    Sending an extra strong cyber hug in your direction.


  2. Thank you so much Emma, for sharing your personal story with your husband’s recent encounter with stroke. It came across as genuine and and so up close. It felt as if this thing — stroke –is really no joke (it’s not corny: it’s true). I too heard about Dr Tufton’s expressed commitment and welcomed it. I won’t right now reveal the hurdles in my mind about promises and the state of the health service…Just to say we need the centres. I was just about to respond to your blog about the Jewish cemetery when you pulled me over to this. Thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

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