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“Control It, Live Longer”

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Today Guyana joins with the World Health Organization (WHO) to observe World Hypertension Day, themed “Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, Live Longer”.
In his message, Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony said that High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, affects an estimated 1.13 billion people globally, with more than two-thirds residing in low- and middle-income countries.
Men are slightly more affected than women. High blood pressure is often referred to as the “silent killer” because it typically has vague or no symptoms. According to the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), in the Americas region, more than a quarter of adult women and four in every ten adult men have hypertension. He also reminded in his message that over time, uncontrolled hypertension commonly leads to chronic kidney disease, heart disease, stroke, dementia, and death. Stroke and ischemic heart disease, resulting from hypertension, are consistently among the top causes of death in Guyana.
In his message for the day, the minister said: “In 2016, a STEPS survey conducted in Guyana revealed that 18.4% of Guyanese had high blood pressure but were not taking medication for it. The Ministry of Health (MoH) has implemented the HEARTS protocol to address high and elevated blood pressure. HEARTS stands for Healthy lifestyle counselling, Evidence-based protocols, Access to essential medicines and technology, Risk-based cardiovascular disease management, Team-based care, and Systems for monitoring. HEARTS focuses on evidence-based practice for diagnosing and treating arterial hypertension. The Hearts protocol program is currently available in 150 health centres throughout Guyana”
When the COVID-19 pandemic was at its peak it became a stark reminder that both the health authorities and citizens must continue to take the issue of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) very seriously.
Based on what the medical professionals had found, the majority of the persons who have died as a result of contracting COVID-19 had some kind of underlying heath complications, many of which are related to NCDs.
Even before the pandemic, poor lifestyle choices; such as tobacco use, alcohol abuse, unhealthy diets, and physical inactivity had resulted in large numbers of people falling sick and dying.
It is also believed that around 40 per cent of Guyanese are either overweight or obese and of that number, the majority are women. Health experts say that chronic diseases result largely from bad food choices and low levels of physical activity. Reducing the risk of developing chronic illnesses, including Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and various cancers is associated with living a healthy lifestyle, which includes such factors as non-smoking, a healthy diet, regular physical activity, moderate alcohol intake and a sense of mental wellbeing. For example, evidence suggests that half of all cancers could be prevented by following a healthy lifestyle.
Further, NCDs come at a high cost to individuals and to nation states in terms of human suffering, expensive treatment and loss of production. It is estimated that the direct and indirect cost of treating non-communicable diseases in Guyana was over 10 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
What is noteworthy is the realisation that most cases of chronic non-communicable diseases are avoidable and it is within our individual powers to prevent these diseases from affecting our lives.
So how do we make the breakthrough when it comes to getting our citizens to adopting healthy lifestyles considering the fact that some persons still operate with a high degree of ignorance.
To begin with, we believe that there is need for greater awareness and knowledge in the society about the dangers of chronic illnesses. On this basis, we urge that there be continuous public education and awareness campaigns across the country to address various health issues.
The government, even though it must take the lead as it relates to policy drafting and implementation etc, cannot do it alone. The entire society must be actively involved. Perhaps the temples, mosques and churches can take up a more active role in educating their congregations about the need to adopt healthier lifestyles in order to live longer, more fulfilling and happier lives.
Consumer bodies, schools and other educational institutions, civil society groups, and more importantly the media, also have a role to play, as when we lose our citizens due to premature deaths, the entire country is robbed of its most valuable resource.
We agree with the minister in his message in observance of the day said: “everyone to learn how to measure and control their blood pressure for a healthier life.”

The post “Control It, Live Longer” appeared first on Guyana Times.

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