The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged African countries to follow through on their commitments by implementing policies and programs that address the fundamental causes of hypertension and promote healthy living.
Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, called for the celebration of World Hypertension Day in 2023 to have as its subject “Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, and Live Longer.”
She said “African governments can lead the way by implementing their commitments through policies and programs that address the root causes of hypertension.
“The initiative if implemented promotes healthy environments, and improves access to healthcare services.
“This will require a significant investment in healthcare infrastructure, training of healthcare workers, and increasing access to affordable medications.”
She said that the day is observed to draw attention to combat the low level of awareness of hypertension and the limited availability of calibrated devices for accurate blood pressure measurement.
According to her, in the African region, close to 40 percent of adults aged between 30 to 79 years are hypertensive and only a quarter of these are taking medicines.
Moeti said that optimal blood pressure control was only attained in 11per cent of patients on medication.
“Hypertension is an important risk factor for cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) mostly heart attack, stroke, and heart failure which account for a significant burden of premature mortality from non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
“Hypertension is easy to diagnose and there is safe and cost-effective treatment including pharmacologic and behavioral change interventions,’’ she added.
She said the WHO has prioritised decentralised management and care for Non-Communicable diseases NCDs including the management of hypertension, using its Package of Essential Noncommunicable disease interventions for primary healthcare.
She said that WHO also has published guidance on the technical specification for automated blood pressure monitoring devices to ensure improved access to accurate and affordable blood pressure devices.
She said that effective prevention and control of hypertension required a multi-sectorial approach.
According to her, the approach will involve collaboration between the health sector and other sectors, such as education finance, and agriculture, to address the social determinants of hypertension.
The director said that interventions such as promoting healthy diets and increasing physical activity can be implemented in schools.
She said that early detection through routine screening at all health service delivery levels was important and calibrated and validated blood pressure measuring devices should be available in all health facilities.
Moeti said that quality assured medicines should be available for management of hypertension particularly at the primary level and robust mechanism to collect data to monitor outcomes from treatment and care.
“Addressing hypertension in Africa requires a multi-faceted approach that involves individuals, communities, and governments working together.
“We must work together to join the global effort to address hypertension and its related health consequences,’’ she said.
According to her, by taking action people can prevent and control hypertension and improve the health and well-being of millions of people in Africa.
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