Cases of strokes are on the rise in Zimbabwe a development that adds insult to injury as the Southern African country is already battling a dysfunctional public healthcare system.
In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that stroke was responsible for 4% of deaths in Zimbabwe and the number has reportedly risen partly due to the deteriorating state of affairs in the country.
A stroke is a medical condition when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted or reduced and it prevents brain tissue from getting oxygen and nutrients leading to their death in minutes.
The condition can be caused by diabetes and hypertension, conditions which have also been on the rise at an aggressive pace in the country.
Physiotherapists, like Harare-based Regis Mugano, said unmanaged diabetes also causes stroke, besides renal failure, amputations, and blindness.
Melisa Mhete who works as a caregiver for a stroke patient in Harare says the state of the Zimbabwean economy is particularly to blame for the rising cases of strokes. Mhete told Anadolu Agency:
People are facing so many challenges in their homes and at their workplaces because the money they are earning is not enough. Much worse than the local currency has not survived inflation.
According to Belinda Pfende, president of Stroke Organization Zimbabwe (SOZ), the challenge in Zimbabwe is a lack of records and very little research in the field of non-communicable diseases, especially heart diseases. Yet, it is believed that one in every six Zimbabweans will have a stroke in their lifetime.
Henry Gura, a doctor, believes that undiagnosed hypertension is a major cause of strokes. Gura says the public health care system is collapsed while the fees in the private sector scare away the general populace.
It costs about $100 for each session for patients to undergo physiotherapy sessions across Zimbabwe’s private hospitals.