During the press conference for the commemoration of World Health Day, Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, made a call to increase hypertension screening and treatment for reduction of the rate of cardiovascular diseases. 2023 World Health Day, celebrated annually on May 17, was themed “Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control it, Live Longer.” The purpose of the annual celebration is to create sensitization concerning high blood pressure, especially in low and middle income countries, while promoting accurate techniques of monitoring blood pressure.
According to an estimation, 80 percent of cardiovascular diseases across the world are in residents of low and middle income countries. As a result, hypertension is considered as the most common cardiovascular disease and Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) and responsible for very high rates of morbidity and mortality. While 52 percent of the 80 percent are conscious of their health status, only 32 percent are undergoing treatment and less than 40 percent have their blood pressure under control.
Lack of awareness causes more NCD related deaths.
Represented by the Director of Public Health, Dr. Morenike Alex-Okoh, the minister asserted that about one billion people across the globe are living with hypertension, accounting for about 30 percent of the global adult population. WHO affirmed that non communicable diseases (NCD) was responsible for 29 percent of deaths related to cardiovascular diseases in Nigeria. Hypertension is independently responsible for 11 percent of all NCD deaths and premature mortality. Poor awareness has further fueled the rampancy of hypertension within the country.
Asides unhealthy lifestyle as a major cause of cardiovascular diseases, lack of awareness has made many people bear preventable medical conditions and death, especially in low and middle income nations. In recent decades, prevalent increase in usage of risk factors like tobacco, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and unhealthy intake of alcohol has immensely contributed to increase in NCD. The high percentage of people who are oblivious of their health condition increases mortality and morbidity as they are at risk of preventable medical complications and death.
National Hypertension Control Initiative (NHCI) & interventions.
As a means of solving the issue of hypertension in Nigeria, the government has ensured the establishment of diverse strategic interventions in the health care system at all levels — tertiary, secondary and primary. These interventions are focused on screening about 80 percent of eligible individuals while providing a standard course of treatment and care for them. During this period, the blood pressure of patients will be monitored until it is under control to enable prevention of cardiovascular diseases and aversion of complications. These interventions are expected to achieve a minimum of 25 percent reduction of possible deaths from premature NCD.
To enable resilience in the Primary Health Care centers for performance of their responsibilities, the federal ministry of health developed collaboration with National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Resolve To Save Lives (RTSL), World Health Organization (WHO) Country Office and other relevant stakeholders. This collaboration happened in August 2019 for the launch of the National Hypertension Control Initiative (NHCI) which ensure provision of hypertension services like creation of awareness, screening, early detection, quality treatment, education and many more.
National Step Survey for NDC as a preventive strategy.
Amidst applauding health professionals across all levels of the health care system for contributing to the achievement of the NHCI initiative, the ministry announced finalization of plans to begin the National Step Survey for NDC, hypertension inclusive. Nationally representative data on the prominence of hypertension and related risk factors will be provided to enhance proper interventions planning and designing for prevention of the development of hypertension. According to Dr. Ehanire, control of hypertension is equal to a reduced burden of cardiovascular diseases in the country.