New Delhi, June 1st,2023: The Ministry of Health’s recent announcement to screen and place 75 million people with hypertension or diabetes on Standard Care by 2025, although ambitious, is the need of the hour, experts said at a roundtable organized by Consumer VOICE, a New Delhi-based consumer organization. Senior MPs, top doctors from the country’s leading medical institutions and CSO representatives emphasized that multi-stakeholder and mission-mode action will be required to meet this critical health goal in the next two years.
Senior MPs present at the event – BJP’s Dr. Kirit Premjibhai Solanki, Lt.Gen.(Retd) Dr. DP Vats and BJD’s Shri Sujeet Kujmar, were united in the need to make this a national priority. Shri Sujeet Kumar, while talking about concrete and time-bound efforts, said that “We must ensure that our individual efforts must be aligned with the Government’s National Programme for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases to prevent NCDs through health promotion, lifestyle changes, early diagnosis, and management of associated diseases.”
Acknowledging the role of community health workers, Lt.Gen.(Retd) Dr. DP Vats said that “To improve India’s healthcare system primary field-level frontline workers, community health workers and nurses are crucial for delivering high-quality community-based services, especially for hypertension and other non-communicable-diseases.”
Doctors present at the event – Dr Yogesh Bahurupi (Associate Professor, Department of Community and Family Medicine, AIIMS Rishikesh), Dr Aparna Jaswal, (Director, Dept of Cardiology of Fortis Escorts Hospital) and Dr Archisman Mohapatra, (Executive Director, Grid Council) – raised alarm that hypertension is one of the top killers in India. Although easy to treat, if left uncontrolled and untreated, it can lead to heart attack and stroke, chronic kidney disease etc. With Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) increasing drastically in India, accounting for almost 63 percent of all deaths, the spotlight is on preventing and treating HTN – a leading risk factor for premature death and morbidity.
More worrisome is the rising trend of young adults falling prey to various complications arising out of the early onset of hypertension. Explaining the reasons of rising incidence of hypertension among young adults, Dr Aparna Jaswal, Director, Dept of Cardiology, Fortis Escorts Hospital, said that “High blood pressure is the leading cause for premature deaths among young adults worldwide and in India. We have to start screening our young population as soon as they turn 18 or even earlier. Those who smoke, chew tobacco, drink alcohol, are obese, engage in sedentary behaviour, consume too much salt, and have unhealthy lifestyles are at a higher risk of developing hypertension. Regular monitoring of BP and adherence to treatment and maintaining a healthy lifestyle are key to keep hypertension under control.”
Making a presentation on the socio-economic impact of hypertension, Mr Ashim Sanyal, CEO, Consumer VOICE stated that “HTN is easy to treat and affordable. As a consumer rights organization, we have made it our mission to work with people, spread awareness and ensure that more and more people are screening their BP regularly and if diagnosed as hypertension, staying on treatment. To that end, we plan to hold awareness meetings with the community in multiple states who have a high burden. Prioritizing NCD is a timely measure, but it has to be strongly supplemented with population-based services aimed at health promotion and action on social determinants of health along with individual services.”
Speaking at the occasion and applauding India’s commitment to control hypertension and make healthcare available to all, Dr Archisman Mohapatra of GRID Council, said that “Uninterrupted supply and availability of hypertension protocol medicines can significantly help in scaling up hypertension control and reduce morbidities like heart attack, stroke and organ damage. If patients with hypertension have access to continuous supply of medicines, then their blood pressure is maintained regularly, and adverse consequences are averted. The need for regular screening and follow-up for those at risk of hypertension alongwith adequate counseling should be further emphasized upon.”
Raised blood pressure is among the most important risk factors for CVDs. Moreover, it remains poorly controlled due to low awareness about hypertension, lack of appropriate care through primary care and poor follow-up. India has set a target of 25% relative reduction in the prevalence of hypertension (raised blood pressure) by 2025. Lauding the efforts of the government and CSOs, BJP MP, Kirit Premjibhai Solanki who virtually joined the consultation, spoke about multisectoral efforts to reduce mortality and reduce NCDs in India. “All the stakeholders including the CSOs, doctors and health experts must work together to uphold the progress of Sustainable Development Goals and ensure a healthier life for all”.