My name is Jotham Johnson, I am a lawyer from Freetown in Sierra Leone. I am living with cardiovascular disease (high blood pressure) and am a stroke survivor.

Through my experience, I found the strength to become an advocate, and often speak on television and radio programs to spread awareness on behalf of people living with stroke and NCDs.

I would like my diary to dispel myths and misconceptions on cardiovascular disease, stroke and NCDs, and give hope to others. I shed light on challenges and what we can do to better prevent stroke in my country, which also holds implications for other types of NCDs.

Visual Diary

15 February 2023

High blood pressure and its complications

I was diagnosed with high blood pressure in 2013 at age 21. I was given medication yet little information about the adverse effects of not adhering to medical guidelines. Over time, I disregarded my condition by not taking my medication, gaining weight and getting stressed over my law studies. I thought that I was too young to have any negative effects. Like many Sierra Leoneans, I didn’t have a personal doctor, which was a key reason why my condition was not monitored; your health is considered your responsibility. There was no sensitization from stroke survivors to warn me about the importance of seeking frequent medical checkups. Nine years later, I suffered a hemorrhagic stroke.


In this picture I was a very busy man overwhelmed with work as a young Lawyer. I was not taking my medication, so the high blood pressure I was diagnosed eventually with led to a stroke.

Visual Diary

15 February 2023

Life after stroke

After experiencing hemorrhagic stroke, I was rushed to hospital where my blood pressure was stabilised. However, my left leg and arm had stopped functioning. Depression hit so hard, as I couldn’t stand or move, and when I sat down, I was in so much pain. I began intensive physio at a local hospital, where I learned to gradually walk again. I thank God for the specialised care, and for my family who helped ensure that a good quality of life is possible after stroke. Hospital care and physiotherapy for stroke survivors are good for those who can afford it, which makes me question why prevention services are not of a similar standard, to prevent stroke in the first place.


At Cerolla Urban Center, where I received intensive physio treatment after my stroke. In this photo, I am doing 'pulley' exercises for my left arm to gain strength.

Visual Diary

15 February 2023

Stroke Association of Sierra Leone

I am Vice President of the Stroke Association of Sierra Leone, a local NGO comprised of stroke survivors and caregivers, including those living with NCDs such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and kidney disease. Our mission is to eradicate stroke in Sierra Leone through awareness raising and advocacy for prevention and care. In my country, many people believe stroke to be a witchcraft attack and hence seek care from traditional healers and pastors, which oftentimes leads to death. This is also the case for people living with a range of other NCDs. People only go to hospitals as a last resort, at which point it is too late.


The Stroke Association is a closely knit community of stroke survivors and caregivers. We help to spread awareness of prevention of stroke and other NCDs. This picture was taken after our monthly meeting.

Visual Diary

15 February 2023

My broader community of people living with NCDs

Through my work with Stroke Association of Sierra Leone, I have learned a lot about the challenges faced by other people living with NCDs when it comes to prevention. Firstly, for most people living with NCDs, treatment is often too costly, so people either do not adhere to their medication or do not seek medical attention for their symptoms. So much pain would be prevented if there is more awareness and better follow up services by health providers, in order to monitor and provide care for those that are the most at risk of stroke.


A meeting of a wider community of people living with various kinds of NCDs. Restoring hope through awareness raising and sharing advice from health providers on prevention guidelines and adopting health-promoting behaviours.

Visual Diary

15 February 2023

I am a voice for change: my calls to action

I am honoured to have spoken before the Minister and Deputy Minister of Health during the opening of the Stroke Ward at Connaught Hospital, about initiatives to implement in order to entrench prevention and care for stroke and other NCDs. I believe there is hope, yet decision-makers must act and we the advocates must continue to raise our voices.

I call on the government of Sierra Leone to price medicines at an affordable rate, increase diagnostic equipment, and ensure access to good quality drugs. I call on the public to take people who fall sick to hospitals rather than traditional healers. I call on stroke survivors to dispel myths and societal stigma regarding NCDs, and for decision-makers to promote awareness and health-promoting policies and practices in our communities.


This picture was taken during the opening of the Stroke Ward. I was giving a speech before the Minister and Deputy Minister of Health and the Chief Medical Officer, calling on the government to take more action to reduce the incidences of stroke and other NCDs in Sierra Leone.

NCD Diaries

As long as there is life, there is hope. Never give up.

Jotham Johnson, lived experience of multiple chronic conditions, Sierra Leone


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