Health News of Friday, 5 April 2013
To mark World Health Day on April 7, the World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for intensified efforts to prevent and control hypertension, also known as high blood pressure.
Worldwide, high blood pressure is estimated to affect more than one in three adults aged 25 and over, or about one billion people.
A statement signed by Fadéla Chaib, WHO spokesperson/Communications officer, copied to the Ghana News Agency on Thursday noted that hypertension is one of the most important contributors to heart disease and stroke – which together make up the world’s number one cause of premature death and disability.
It said researchers estimate that high blood pressure contributes to nearly 9.4 million deaths from cardiovascular disease each year.
The statement said it also increases the risk of conditions such as kidney failure and blindness; it however, noted that detecting high blood pressure was the first step in preventing and controlling it.
It said on this year’s World Health Day, WHO was calling on all adults around the world to get their blood pressure measured, adding that when people know their blood pressure level, they could take steps to control it.
“Our aim today is to make people aware of the need to know their blood pressure, to take high blood pressure seriously, and then to take control,” the statement cited Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO.
It said people could cut the risks of high blood pressure by: consuming less salt, eating a balanced diet, engaging in regular physical activity, avoiding tobacco use and avoiding harmful use of alcohol.
It said the prevalence of hypertension is highest in Africa (46 percent of adults) while the lowest prevalence is found in the Americas (35 percent of adults).
It stated that overall, high-income countries have a lower prevalence of hypertension (35 percent of adults) than low -and -middle income groups (40 percent of adults) – thanks to successful multi-sectoral public policies and better access to health care.
It said in 2012, at the WHO World Health Assembly, governments decided to adopt a global target of a 25 percent reduction in premature death from non-communicable diseases by 2025.
“Global leaders have agreed preventing and controlling high blood pressure is an important step to achieving this target,” the statement quoted Dr Oleg Chestnov, WHO Assistant Director-General for Non-communicable Diseases and Mental Health. “
It said WHO’s campaign to encourage people to measure their blood pressure was a response to the United Nations Political Declaration on Non-communicable Diseases, which was adopted by Heads of State and Government in September 2011.
It noted that the Declaration commits countries to make greater efforts to promote public awareness campaigns to further the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases such as heart disease and stroke, cancers, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases.
It said WHO supports national efforts to develop high-level policies and plans to prevent and control non-communicable diseases, as well as programmes related to advocacy, community mobilization, environmental interventions, health system organization and delivery, legislation and regulation.
The statement said WHO had guidance for Member States for implementing affordable and effective solutions to reduce health and financial burden linked to hypertension, such as putting in place tools to manage total cardiovascular risk approach in primary health settings.
World Health Day is celebrated on 7 April every year to mark the anniversary of the founding of WHO in 1948.