Stroke systems of care in low-income and middle-income countries: challenges and opportunities
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The burden of stroke is higher in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs) than in high-income countries and is rising. Even though there are global policies and guidelines for implementing stroke care, there are many challenges in setting up stroke services in LMICs. Despite these challenges, there are many models of stroke care available in LMICs-eg, multidisciplinary team care led by a stroke neurologist, specialist-led care by neurologists, physician-led care, hub and spoke models incorporating stroke telemedicine (ie, telestroke), and task sharing involving community health workers. Alternative strategies have been developed, such as reorganising the existing hospital infrastructure by training health professionals to implement protocol-driven care. The future challenge is to identify what elements of organised stroke care can be implemented to make the largest gain. Simple interventions such as swallowing assessments, bowel and bladder care, mobility assessments, and consistent secondary prevention can prove to be key elements to improving post-discharge morbidity and mortality in LMICs.
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