High blood pressure or hypertension is both preventable and treatable. One in three adults worldwide has high blood pressure. In an interview with Jyotsna Singh, the WHO representative to India, Nata Menabde, stresses the importance of reducing the incidence of high blood pressure and how raising awareness is essential to the success of the campaign
Why was high blood pressure chosen as the theme of World Health Day 2013?
Worldwide, the economic burden of high blood pressure is in trillions of rupees. In India, too, it amounts to billions. Thus, there is an urgent need to introduce measures to tackle the problem. As more and more younger people are getting the disease now, the economic burden is increasing. The reasons behind hypertension is part ageing, and part other factors, too, the influence of which can be reduced.
We talk of adopting a healthier diet to reduce the burden of diseases. But in a country like India where access to food itself is an issue, how can we ensure healthy food?
Food with high salt content is a problem. Regulation is one thing, but it can be applicable to processed food. We need to make people aware so that they use less salt in their food while cooking at home. A lot of this has to do with tradition; norms and regulations won't help. The government has to regulate certain things, but it is also responsibility of individual towards their own health and what is good for their family. In a sense, reducing the incidence of high blood pressure is the combined responsibility of the state, the community, individuals and academia.
What has been the Indian government's response to the need to reduce the burden of disease?
We are in the early stage of discussions. Obviously the Indian government is recognising the challenge. There is no published material as yet. We are working on that. We have set global targets. So, there is a global push adding to the Indian government's willingness. The government is expected to intervene and create awareness among people, apart from other things. It has to make technology available at the grassroots level.
Will a new task force of healthcare providers be created to provide services to the people?
The auxiliary nurse midwives (ANMs) and accredited social health activists (ASHAs) will be performing the task. The idea is to merge all the services together so as to be delivered by one rank of people. This will give holistic healthcare to all.
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