On 29 October 2021, for the first time, Rwanda joined the rest of the world to celebrate World Stroke Day through a national organization created by Rwandans who survived the stroke, Stroke Action Rwanda (SAR). The theme for 2021 is “Minutes can save lives” and focuses on improving awareness of stroke signs and symptoms with an emotional campaign that aims to highlight what can be saved if we all know the signs of stroke. One in four people are at risk of stroke in their lifetime. It is the second leading cause of death and the third leading cause of disability, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In Rwanda, this disease is the third cause of death. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to a certain part of the brain is interrupted or reduced. It prevents brain tissue from receiving vital nutrients and oxygen causing the cells to die. It is important to act fast when somebody is having a stroke as every second is crucial. Attendants of World Stroke Day organised by Stroke Action Rwanda (SAR) Speaking at the event that took place at Serena Hotel, Dr Joseph Rukeribuga, the president of SAR said that stroke survivors in Rwanda still have challenges that include lack of capacity in terms of money and members who are not capable of performing technical works like drafting a project in case they are looking for a donor. He declared that some of the medicines they require to take are expensive and yet some of the members of SAR do not have insurance to help them since they have even lost their jobs, adding that their families have gotten tired of taking care of them. He requests the government to establish a board that gives grants to stroke survivors and at least get them medical insurance. He said that more campaigns should be organized in every area of the country and reach those who are likely to get strokes than others due to what they do or how they live, like those who drink too much beer, smoke, don’t take rest, among others. Dr Joseph Rukeribuga, the president of SAR Dr François Uwinkindi, the Division Manager for Non-Communicable Diseases Division at Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) said that stroke is the effect of Non-communicable diseases that are not well treated, adding that hypertension and diabetes serve as the main causes. “According to our research, people get strokes but delay accessing medical care because they don’t know about it, its symptoms and what they can do in case it arises. This is why we are raising awareness so that they can understand that it’s not sorcery and that it can affect not only the old but also young people. Getting to hospital early is the key to being helped effectively,” he said. “In 2009, stroke was ranked ninth in diseases that cause deaths in Rwanda, but today it is the third. If we do not do anything about it, in 5 years, it can come first.” Talking about medicines for stroke patients, he said that basic medicines are available in Rwanda though the new medicines are not yet registered to be taken by a stroke survivor who uses Mutuelle de Sante, adding that they are going to advocate so that they can also be accessed. Ghislain Mutabaruka, 37, a stroke survivor who caught the disease in 2015 said that it was due to his behaviours like working ceaselessly, partying many days without rest, drinking beers and smoking ceaselessly, adding that he didn’t have any information about the disease. “I got ill on a Friday night at 8p.m and decided to sleep until Saturday at 3p.m and that was late. When I woke up, I couldn’t raise either my legs or arms. Even the person who reached out to me didn’t know how to help or anything about stroke. This time, stroke has already gotten worse on me. There are hours one shouldn’t exceed without accessing medical care,” he said. “If I had information, I wouldn’t have gotten sick to this extent. I would immediately call a taxi to take me to the hospital instead of sleeping, thinking that I would be fine the next day. Mutabaruka also advised people not to mistake stroke with witchcraft or sorcery because they are far from being similar, adding that society should value going to hospital instead of taking traditional medicines, thinking that they have been poisoned.