25 September 2018

Africa: Stroke of Depression in South Africa

analysis

Since his stroke, David Mkhontwana has been trapped inside his house and needs to be carried down the stairs on his wheelchair by four or five people.

Ten South Africans suffer a stroke every hour. Yet many blame the affliction on witchcraft and isolate stroke survivors - who are already battling because of the dire shortage of rehabilitation facilities.

Not far from David Mkhontwana's flat in the South Rand, beige apartment blocks stretch up towards the sky. Prior to his stroke, Mkhontwana helped to build these when he was a construction worker. Now, David is essentially a prisoner in his own home.

A stroke two months ago rendered him with only limited movement in his one arm. His wife, Paulina, is unable to physically lift him, change his nappies, bathe him and get him from their second-storey apartment block to the nearby hospital for rehabilitation and support.

David is one of the 10 South Africans who suffer a stroke - a sudden interruption of blood supply to the brain - every hour. This is often linked to other lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes, obesity and hypertension, that are taking lives across South Africa and the rest of the continent.

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