By Hanne Christensen and Francesca Romana Pezzella
Present situation: COVID19 is like nothing experienced in Europe since the Spanish flu took its toll in 1918 killing more than 50 million people.
How we live, what we focus on, and what we fear and prioritize has changed in just a few weeks. It is difficult to imagine that life can just return to usual again. The challenges we know and are used to seem less pertinent now. Under the threat of COVID19, countries in Europe have been able to mobilise rapidly when realising the magnitude of the catastrophe about to unfold: we can make change and act when we know the stakes are real.
Stroke is real. Before the pandemic, during and after, stroke remains. Stroke is a serious sometimes lethal sometimes ‘just’ life-changing condition, which can be prevented and treated. Stroke is an old threat that we have always lived with – but what is new is that we have the means to fight it.
As a strokologists we could dream about fighting stroke as we fight COVID19: with the same determination that ‘no: we will not let this happen to our society’, we’ll stand together and do what it takes to reduce the burden of stroke.
In the real world we need to fight for implementation of the Action Plan for Stroke in Europe. This initiative sets up reasonable targets to reduce the burden of stroke by prevention, access to treatment, and focus on life after stroke.
Right now the implementation plan is on hold: everybody is fighting COVID19. When we are through this pandemic with the knowledge of how much we can achieve in a short time, we will call on all forces in all European countries to reduce the burden of stroke.