The World Health Organization ( WHO) has warned that only adopting healthy life style such as reducing salt intake, increasing portions of fruits and vegetables consumption among others will prevent one from suffering from the disease of hypertension.
The World Health body through its Regional Director for Africa, Dr.Matchidiso Moeti gave this advice in her message to mark the World Hypertension Day in Abuja.
According to her, we can fight hypertension and the responsibility starts with us as individuals and as communities taking control of our health and well-being.
“We need to adopt healthy lifestyles such as reducing salt intake, increasing portions of fruits and vegetables consumption, increasing physical activity, and avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption in addition to regularly check our blood pressure and incase it is raised, adhere to medications as prescribed by the health provider”
She described the diseases as the ‘silent killer’ and often times leaves people with hypertension with no specific signs or symptoms directly apart from foreboding of damage on specific organs in the body including the heart, brain, eyes and kidneys resulting from poor control.
She further lamented “In the African region, close to 40% of adults aged 30-79 years are hypertensive and only a quarter of these are taking medicines. Optimal blood pressure control is only attained in 11% 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).
“Effective prevention and control of hypertension requires a multi-sectoral approach. This approach should involve collaboration between the health sector and other sectors, such as education finance, and agriculture, to address the social determinants of hypertension. For example, interventions such as promoting healthy diets and increasing physical activity can be implemented in schools.
Dr. Moeti however called Governments in Africa to lead the way by implementing their commitments through policies and programs that address the root causes of hypertension, promote healthy environments, and improve access to healthcare services. “This will require a significant investment in healthcare infrastructure, training of healthcare workers, and increasing access to affordable medications. Early detection through routine screening at all health service delivery levels is important and calibrated and validated blood pressure measuring devices should be available in all health facilities. In addition, quality assured medicines should be available for management of hypertension particularly at the primary level, as well as a robust mechanism to collect data to monitor outcomes from treatment and care.
“At our end as WHO we have prioritized decentralized management and care for NCDs including management of hypertension, using the WHO Package of Essential Noncommunicable disease interventions for primary healthcare.
” In addition, the WHO has published a guidance on the technical specification for automated blood pressure monitoring devices to ensure improved access to accurate, affordable blood pressure devices which is often a significant barrier to proper medical care in low-resource settings.