Saturday, 9 August 2014

Indian Government declares National Hypertension Day

The Union Health Ministry has conceptualised dedicating a particular day of each year for 
highlighting the dangers of Hypertension, the silent killer which, according to World Health 
Organisation (WHO), accounts for 7 percent of disability adjusted life years worldwide, and 9.4 
million deaths annually. 

Speaking at the 23rd Annual Conference of the Hypertension Society of India (HSICON) here today, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Health Minister, said “I am preparing the Ministry to meet the growing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCD). Hypertension, diabetes, cancers, coronary artery disease, etc. are projected by WHO as the biggest gnawers of our public health budget in the next decade.” 

The roots of most NCD, including hypertension, lie in the modern, sedentary lifestyle, the Minister said. Therefore, more resources than before would be deployed for the objective of raising public awareness on preventive measures and early diagnosis. That is why he feels the need for declaring a certain day of each year as “National Hypertension Day”. 

“I hope to marshal the synergies of organisations like organisations in the medical field into making National Hypertension Day a platform for intensive dialogue between government and patient, pharmaceutical company and patient, lifestyle gurus and patient, and so on. It will also highlight the dangers of consuming junk food, alcohol consumption and smoking, physical inactivity, as well as the importance of Yoga for both prevention and management of hypertension,” Dr Harsh Vardhan said. 

In India, hypertension is the leading NCD risk and estimated to be attributable for nearly 10 percent of all deaths. Adult hypertension prevalence has risen dramatically over the past three decades from 5 per cent to between 20-40 per cent in urban areas and 12-17 per cent in rural areas. Most people don’t know they are suffering from hypertension until it is too late. 

The number of hypertensive individuals is anticipated to nearly double from 118 million in 2000 to 213 million by 2025. It is estimated that 16 per cent of ischemic heart disease, 21 per cent of peripheral vascular disease, 24 per cent of acute myocardial infarctions and 29 per cent of strokes are attributable to hypertension. This underscores the huge impact effective hypertension prevention and control can have on reducing the rising burden of cardiovascular disease. 

Dr Harsh Vardhan added, “The loss to the economy should not be measured only by the drain on the public health system caused by hypertension, but also in terms of the productivity loss because hypertension strikes a human being during the most productive years and emasculates the ability to deliver to one’s fullest potential.” 

The Minister announced firm plans by the Ministry of Health to give a push to both into hypertension research and free treatment/management under the public health system. 

“A three-pronged plan is conceptualised. First, by raising awareness of prevention and early diagnosis among the largely youthful population, we hope to bring down the number of undiagnosed hypertensive patients over the next five years. Secondly, the Government will deploy funds for research into personalised treatment which is the major area of research worldwide into the development of medicines for this condition. And, thirdly, the government health system will be fitted out with departments for individualised treatment of patients,” the Minister said. 

The Health Minister elaborated that the effect of hypertension on the heart, kidneys and eyes creates additional burden on the government system. For this, he recognises the need for promoting the Yoga way of life backed up by a culture of having periodic check-ups. The government is therefore factoring into the evolving Universal Health Assurance plan an integrated treatment strategy for medium-to-long term reduction of the population under hypertension. 

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