What does the partnership with Philips bring to the World Stroke Organization in terms of helping achieve its mission?
Prof JP: We strongly believe that the advocacy, awareness, and implementation of stroke care required is not possible by the World Stroke Organization alone, so partnering with industry is one of our strategies for raising stroke awareness. World Stroke Day is one example of how partnering with industry has already helped us create awareness.
But next to that is the implementation of stroke care, so from my perspective working with Philips is important in the area of stroke diagnosis and treatment – the rapid evaluation of patients followed by hyperacute stroke care in the form of thrombolysis and thrombectomy. One of the problems in the rural areas of many countries is district hospitals don't have a CT scanner. In Punjab in 2014, for example, we started a stroke program in government-run district hospitals, and there were only five district hospitals with a CT scanner. Now, through a private-public partnership, the government has been able to install CT scanners in all 22 district hospitals. So the infrastructure part – the CT scan, the diagnosis – is crucial. Secondly, we need to improve access to hyperacute stroke care, including the pre-hospital pathway and access to thrombolytic and mechanical thrombectomy treatment. That’s reflected in the latest World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations for low-cost cardiovascular interventions, which include aspirin within 48 hours for acute ischemic stroke, thrombolytic treatment, mechanical thrombectomy, stroke unit care, and rehabilitation.
It is also important to focus on capacity building, training, and mapping a country’s stroke-ready hospitals so the public know which hospital to go to. In Europe and North America, it is already streamlined to some extent, but in many countries, it is still a major challenge. These are all areas where Philips can help. And if we focus on all these areas, I believe we'll be able to make a tremendous impact.