By Linda Ike
The World health Organization (WHO) said close to 40% of adults aged 30-79 years in Africa are hypertensive and only a quarter of these are taking medicines.
The Organisatíon stated that optimal blood pressure control is only attained in 11% of patients on medication.
Regional Director for Africa, WHO, Dr Matshidiso Moeti disclosed this in her message to commemorate 2023 Hypertension Day with the theme: “Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, Live Longer!
The Global Community every year marks the World Hypertension Day on May 17.
According to Moet, this is aimed at drawing attention to combatting the low level of awareness of hypertension as well as the limited availability of calibrated devices for accurate blood pressure measurement which dubbed as the ‘silent killer’ that often times people with hypertension will not have any specific signs or symptoms directly attributed to the condition.
She noted that the symptoms are usually foreboding of damage on specific organs in the body including the heart, brain, eyes and kidneys resulting from poor control.
“We need to regularly check our blood pressure and incase it is raised, adhere to medications as prescribed by the health provider.
“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 are safe and cost-effective treatment including pharmacologic and behavior change interventions.’ Moet advised.
The Regional Director said that the WHO has prioritized decentralized management and care for NCDs including management of hypertension, using the WHO Package of Essential Noncommunicable disease interventions for primary healthcare.
She added that the Organisation 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.
Moet said, “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. Effective prevention and control of hypertension requires a multi-sectoral approach.”
She stressed the need for the approach to involve collaboration between the health sector and other sectors, such as education, finance, and agriculture, to address the social determinants of hypertension,
She advised that the interventions like promoting healthy diets and increasing physical activity should be implemented in schools.
“Governments in Africa can 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.
“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. For those living with hypertension, regularly measure your Blood Pressure accurately, control it, and live longer.” She stated.