Bridgetown, Barbados, 17 May (PAHO/WHO) — Today we join the rest of the world in recognizing World Hypertension Day. World Hypertension Day is observed each year on May 17 with the aim to raise awareness and promote hypertension prevention, detection and control. The Ministries of Health in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean countries, in collaboration with key stakeholders, will be engaging in activities designed to raise awareness of Blood Pressure Control under this year’s theme “Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control it, Live Longer”.
We congratulate the Ministries of Health in the Americas as recipients of the Advocacy Award in Cardiovascular Health, World Heart Awards 2021, which was recognized in February 2022. The World Health Award is issued by the World Health Federation and celebrates those members who have gone above and beyond in their mission to fight cardiovascular disease and promote healthy hearts in their communities.
Globally, one out of every three deaths is due to cardiovascular disease (CVD). The non-Latin Caribbean has the highest mortality rate due to cardiovascular disease, accounting for 418 per 100,000 population.
To address these burdens, several health interventions were developed geared towards improving these health conditions. One such intervention is HEARTS in the Americas. This is an initiative of the countries, led by the Ministries of Health, with the participation of local stakeholders and technical cooperation of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). The initiative seeks to integrate progressively into already existing health delivery services, to promote the adoption of global best practices in the prevention and control of cardiovascular diseases.
In 2015, the precursor to the HEARTS Programme i.e., the Standardized Hypertension Treatment Project (SHTP) was initially implemented in Barbados and then expanded to Chile, Columbia, and Cuba. Presently, HEARTS in the Americas is now implemented in 22 countries of the Americas, including Barbados, St Lucia, British Virgin Islands and Dominica. This programme is the institutionalized model for hypertension management in primary care and hoped to be fully established in countries by 2025.
However, implementation in these countries was significantly hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Sustainable Development Goal 3 (SDG 3) “Good health and well-being”, has a 2030 target to reduce by one third premature mortality from NCDs through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being.
This suggests that countries need to reduce their premature deaths from NCD from three out of four to two out of four. Therefore, it is imperative that we focus on the management of cardiovascular disease in order to meet the SDGs. Can our Caribbean Countries achieve the SDG3 target by 2030? What has the Caribbean done thus far.
The Caribbean has set a target by 2025 to reduce the premature deaths by 25%. This means that we should be engaging in the following:
- Standardizing guidelines and protocols and ensuring that medications are always available.
- Utilizing Exercise prescriptions to improve cardiovascular fitness.
- Implementing patient reminders and recall mechanisms to increase compliance with medication and visits.
- Implementing awareness programmes for home self-management for patients and their families.
- Making Blood pressure monitoring available at selected sites in our community e.g. Faith-based Organizations.
- Arming selected leaders in the community with the requisite knowledge and skills to function as Non-Communicable Disease Ambassadors.
We applaud the Ministries of Health in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Countries for their leadership in the implementation of the HEARTS in the Americas Initiative and look forward to its continued expansion as more countries come on board.
Today, we issue a call for every Caribbean citizen “Know your numbers”! Get your Blood Pressure checked! Get your weight checked! Get your blood sugar levels checked!