The Vietnam Stroke Association Oct. 4 launched a campaign to raise awareness about prevention and treatment of stroke to mark World Stroke Day on October 29.

As part of the campaign, written material outlining the ailment will be delivered to hospitals and clinics nation-wide to increase awareness of stroke and how to combat it.

Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Xuyen said: "Strokes can be prevented and their fatality and disability rates can be reduced if people know how to prevent them and recognise their symptoms."

"Prompt emergency medical care and immediate treatment can prevent a fatal or disabling stroke because time is critical."

The country has only 16 stroke units, mostly in HCM City and Hanoi .

Xuyen said her ministry will set up more stroke units at hospitals to provide emergency treatment for patients, helping reduce the fatality and disability rates.

A programme initiated by her ministry with support from the World Stroke Organisation had trained more than 8,000 doctors around the country in the last few years in identifying and treating the disease.

Professor Le Van Thanh, chairman of the Vietnam Stroke Association, said stroke is the third leading cause of death in the world after heart disease and cancer and a leading cause of disability.

Every six seconds someone dies of stroke, he said.

Around 200,000 new cases are diagnosed in Vietnam every year, he added./.