Many Nigerians unaware they’re hypertensive – FG
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has called for increased screening for hypertension and treatment in order to reduce the burden of cardiovascular diseases in the country.
The minister, who was represented by the Director of Public Health, Dr. Morenike Alex-Okoh, made the call during a press conference on Wednesday to commemorate World Hypertension Day (WHD), which is observed annually on May 17.
The 2023 World Health Day with the theme, “Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control it, Live Longer,” emphasizes raising awareness about high blood pressure, particularly in low to middle income nations, as well as promoting accurate blood pressure monitoring techniques.
It is estimated that 80 percent of cardiovascular diseases worldwide is borne by persons living in low-and middle-income countries, making hypertension the most common cardiovascular disease and Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) that causes significant morbidity and mortality.
The ministry said of the 80 percent, only 52 per cent are aware of their condition while about 35 per cent are on treatment and less than 14 per cent have their blood pressure controlled.
The Ministry added that more than a billion people globally are living with hypertension, which consists of about 30% of the adult population worldwide.
According to the WHO, non-communicable diseases , NCDs, accounted for 29 per cent of all deaths in Nigeria with cardiovascular disease, predominantly hypertension, being responsible for 11 per cent of all the NCD deaths, and premature mortality due to NCDs is at 22 per cent.
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The Ministry pointed out that in addition to unhealthy lifestyle, low awareness has increased people’s risk of preventable medical complications and death, particularly in low- and middle-income communities.
“It is worrisome that the burden of hypertension is disproportionately more in the low- and middle-income countries in recent decades due to the increase in
prevalence of risk factors such as tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet and harmful alcohol consumption.
“The significant burden is further accentuated by the high proportion of persons that are unaware of their condition, putting them at risk of avoidable medical complications and death” Ehanire said.
The Minister also stated that in order to address the problem of hypertension in Nigeria, the government has over the years established several strategic interventions at the tertiary, secondary, and primary levels of health care.
These interventions, he said, are aimed at screening at least 80 per cent of eligible individuals and placing 80 per cent of hypertensive patients on a standard course of treatment and care, as well as making sure that they have their blood pressure under control to prevent cardiovascular diseases and to avert complications with the hope to achieve at least 25 per cent reduction in unconditional probability of people dying from premature cardiovascular diseases and other NCDs.
The Ministry said in order to strengthen the Primary Health Care centers to perform their responsibilities, it has collaborated with
National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), World Health Organization (WHO) Country Office, and Resolve To Save Lives (RTSL) and other relevant stakeholders to launch the National Hypertension Control Initiative (NHCI) in August 2019 to provide hypertension services such as awareness creation, education, screening, early detection, quality treatment, care and support, including referral in line with standard national tools and guidelines to reduce morbidity and mortality due to hypertension in the country.
“In November 2020, under the NHCI initiative, services commenced in selected PH facilities in both Kano and Ogun States. Currently a total of 104 PHs in the two States have been activated and are providing hypertension control services. As at December 2022, over 1 million episodes of blood pressure (P) checks had been conducted with over 43,000 hypertension new cases recorded; over 21,409 patients were placed on treatment for high BP; and over 1,000 patients referred. BP control rate which was less than 20℅ at the start of the Project has been improved to almost 30%” it said.
In addition to 104 PHCs in Kano and Ogun States, the ministry stated that 360 PHCs from 17 States, as well as the Federal Capital Territory, have been added to the Healthy Heart Africa (HHA) Programme, which was launched in August 2022 and is supported by AstraZeneca through Population Services International (PSI).
The Minister said under the HHA programme, a total of 744,773 BP screenings have been conducted with 162,060 (22%) hypertension cases diagnosed as at April 18, 2023.
It said the HHA supported States are Nasarawa, Kwara, Bauchi, Gombe, Adamawa, Jigawa, Kebbi, Sokoto, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Anambra, Imo, Enugu, Akwa-1bom, Delta, Rivers and the FCT.
While praising healthcare professionals at all levels for their dedication to combating hypertension, the minister announced that plans to conduct the National Step Survey for NDCs (including hypertension) have been finalized.
The survey will provide nationally representative data on the prevalence of hypertension and associated risk factors for proper planning and designing of interventions to prevent the development of hypertension.
Ehanire noted that hypertension is preventable, easily detectable and treated.
He added that if hypertension is controlled, the burden of cardiovascular disease can be reduced in the country.
He also admonished those on treatment to avoid the temptation of discontinuing their medication regardless of any signs of improvement as the medication is for life.
Dr Mary Dewan, who represented the WHO Country Representative to Nigeria, Dr Walter Kazadi, said the global health agency will continue to support and work with the Ministry of Health to fight against hypertension, the “silent killer”.
She also reiterated the need for people to
measure their blood pressures accurately and regularly, to ensure it is controlled so that all may live longer.
“As WHO, we are committed to supporting the country to implement priority activities towards the prevention and control of hypertension. Together, by raising awareness, encouraging early detection and prompt treatment we will contribute to the global target of reducing the prevalence of hypertension by 33% by the year 2030. Thank you all for your attention,” she said.