Malaysia Stroke Virtual Conference 2020
August 14 – 16, 2020
Contents available online from August 14 to September 14, 2020 at:

Lin Kooi Ong, PhD

Wan Asyraf Wan Zaidi, MMed*

As a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Malaysia Stroke Council, in collaboration with Angels Initiative, organized the first-ever Malaysia Stroke Virtual Conference 2020. This virtual conference had an excellent scientific program which covered hyperacute stroke, stroke emergency, stroke rehab, basic/translational stroke research, and many more topics ( The program included live plenary lectures, symposia, e-posters, a virtual expo, and a Game of Stroke tournament. In addition to talks by leading Malaysian clinicians and researchers, this virtual conference also featured experts around the world, including Professor Sheila Martins (Brazilian Stroke Network), Professor Valery Feigin (University of Auckland), and Dr Ramesh Sahathevan (Ballarat Health Service).

The Deputy Director General of Health Malaysia Datuk Dr Hj. Rohaizat Hj. Yon officiated the opening ceremony of the conference. He also presented the World Stroke Organisation Angels Awards to five Malaysian hospitals: Hospital Tuanku Jaafar in Seremban (Gold), Hospital Seberang Jaya (Gold), Sarawak General Hospital (Gold and Diamond), Regency Specialist Hospital (Gold), and Pantai Hospital Penang (Diamond), as recognition for outstanding stroke care.

The Malaysia Stroke Virtual Conference 2020 was declared open. (Left to right) Assoc. Prof. Dr. Hoo Fan Kee (Malaysia Stroke Council President), Datuk Dr Hj. Rohaizat Hj. Yon (Deputy Director General Ministry of Health Malaysia), Dr. Santhi Datuk Puvanarajah (Head of Neurology Service Ministry of Health Malaysia), Mrs. Sylvia Chong (National Stroke Association of Malaysia CEO), Prof. Dr. Hamidon Basri (Malaysia Stroke Council advisor), and Prof. Dr. Khairul Azmi Abdul Kadir (President of Malaysia Neurointerventional Society). Photo provided by Dr. Wan Asyraf Wan Zaidi, co-scientific chairperson of the Malaysia Stroke Conference 2020, with permission. 

The first live plenary session was by Dr. Law Wan Chung (Sarawak General Hospital), who spoke about “Data Monitoring: Why I Need This For My Stroke Centre?”. Dr. Law presented some exciting data related to thrombolysis outcome and stroke outcome from the Sarawak General Hospital. He highlighted that 1442 ischemic stroke patients were admitted to the hospital between June 2013 and August 2018, and the mean age was 60. The incidence of stroke in individuals under age 60 has risen at an alarming rate; in this case, approximately 13% were under 45 years.

Next up was Professor Dr. Hj. Hamidon Hj. Basri (University Putra Malaysia), who shared his journey on setting up the Stroke RESQ Network in Malaysia, including a high-volume stroke center, mobile stroke unit, air ambulance and stroke telemedicine. “Collaboration (between the Ministry of Health, universities, private hospitals, professional societies and individuals) is key to success,” he said.

Professor Dr. Nijasri C. Suwanwela (Chulalongkorn University) finished up the Day 1 live session by sharing insights on optimization of stroke care during the COVID-19 pandemic using telemedicine. Interestingly, she featured the Stroke Minirobots that follow stroke patients home after discharge, and these minirobots can monitor vital signs such as blood pressure and EEG recording, as well as delivery of rehabilitation.

The Day 2 plenary session started with Dr. Law Wan Chung, who presented his lecture “The Future of Stroke Service in Ministry of Health Malaysia.” He highlighted the lack of access to neurologists throughout the country with only 110 neurologists in Malaysia. Therefore, the hyperacute stroke service essentially needs a good collaboration with emergency physician, physician, and geriatrician in Malaysia. Ministry of Health Malaysia, together with the Malaysia Stroke Council, plans to create more primary stroke centers equipped with stroke care units, as well as establish six comprehensive stroke centers with endovascular thrombectomy service by year 2025.

The next session was by Dr. Eko Arisetijono (Universitas Brawijaya), a neurologist from Indonesia; he presented on “The Impact of COVID-19 on ASEAN Countries Stroke Care.” He shared the negative implication of the COVID-19 pandemic to the neurology service and stroke care in Indonesia. He hoped that ASEAN countries, specifically in the area of stroke care, would be able to move forward together via collaboration in research and health services development.

The final plenary lecture by Associate Prof. Dr. Ching Siew Mooi (Universiti Putra Malaysia) was on “Knowledge on the Action to be Taken and Recognition of Symptoms of Stroke in a Community Level.” She highlighted the need for immediate recognition of stroke symptoms at the community level. She shared a recent study on the urban population in Malaysia at the primary care clinic that found around 74.2% of respondents acknowledged the need for early arrival to the hospital within 4.5 hours from the stroke onset. Alarmingly, 16% of the respondents answered heart as the affected organ in stroke. She further emphasized the need for a regular stroke awareness program to ensure early arrival to the hospital, and lead to a better post-stroke outcome.  

Excitingly, the Malaysia Stroke Virtual Conference did not end on August 16, 2020. All participants have until September 14, 2020 to re-watch sessions for clarification, catch up on presentations, read the e-posters, and continue discussion with the presenters. With the support from the sponsors (Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim and Pfizer), the registration is complementary, and those who are interested can still sign up to enjoy access to the conference content at:

*Dr. Wan Asyraf Wan Zaidi is a stroke neurologist in Pusat Perubatan Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, and clinical lecturer in National University of Malaysia.