With more than 245 million people above 30 years estimated to have raised blood pressure, the burden of hypertension is massive in the WHO South-East Asia Region. In the region, ‘nearly half of people living with hypertension are unaware of their condition and only about one-third are on treatment, which increases the risk of heart attacks, stroke, renal failure, and other end-organ damage.’
On the occasion of World Hypertension Day, 2023 observed under the theme ‘Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, Live Longer,’ Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region has reiterates ‘people need to know why raised blood pressure is dangerous, and how to take steps to control it.’ She observes that the theme of the day provides an opportunity for health managers to advocate for increased availability and use of digital blood pressure measurement devices across healthcare facilities to scale up screening and monitoring.
Often referred to as ‘silent killer,’ hypertension is widespread in India. As per the National Family Health Survey 5 (NFHS-5) report, one in five Indian women, and one out of four Indian men were identified as suffering from hypertension. However, when it comes to treatment, only 7% women and 6% men who have been diagnosed with high blood pressure are on medication, NFHS-5 revealed.
To combat the challenges paused by this ‘silent killer,’ the Union Health Ministry, Government of India, marking the World Hypertension Day, 2023, launched an ambitious initiative of screening and putting 75 million people with hypertension and diabetes on Standard Care by 2025. This will be the largest expansion of non communicable diseases (NCDs) in primary health care programme in the world with a community based approach starting at the primary healthcare level, Dr V K Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog revealed. Towards this goal, Dr Paul said, India is making efforts to achieve results in social indicators like life expectancy, maternal mortality rate, NCDs at par with developed nations. ‘The Outcome Budget document of Union Budget 2023-2024 has for the first time introduced hypertension and diabetes treatment as output indicators reflecting reflects the government's commitment to scale-up hypertension and diabetes coverage services,’ it was informed.
In Nagaland, the NFHS-5 report reveals that the prevalence rate of hypertension above 15 years of age is 22.4% in female and 28.7% in male. The more concerning part is the occurrence of hypertension among the younger age group. Dr Kejavisa Savino, a clinician from Oking Hospital, Kohima is of the opinion that the hypertensive population is getting younger and younger by the year and hypertensive below 30 years is seen in common. The clinician feels the main targets are the young people with high BP in whom intervention is going to make a big impact in their future health. He attributes the problem to the ‘fast paced lifestyle’ as one of the main causes and likewise recommends creating awareness among the populace on the risk of hypertension.
The Regional Director of WHO South-East Asia Region, while taking note that countries in the region have made targeted efforts to scale up hypertension coverage services at the primary health care, asserts, hypertension can be prevented and controlled. Nevertheless, she underlines that countries need to invest in strong public health measures and create an enabling environment to reduce modifiable risk factors and promote a healthy lifestyle. She rightly underscores “scaling up hypertension prevention and treatment services at the primary health care level requires political will and investment in health systems.”
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