In India, one in four adults has high blood pressure. Among them, only half have been diagnosed and only ten percent have their blood pressure under control. As a result, a large number of people develop heart attacks, strokes, and kidney failure while in their productive years of life.
To deal with the problem, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), in collaboration with World Health Organization and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, has decided to expand its India Hypertension Control Initiative (IHCI) across the country.
Launched in November 2017, the initiative has enrolled more than three lakh patients with high blood pressure in government health facilities in 25 selected districts in Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Telangana, and Maharashtra. It will now be expanded to cover 100 districts across all states. The expansion is expected to accelerate the implementation of quality hypertension treatment for over 15 crore population over the next four years.
The key features of the Initiative include treatment protocols that simplify quality patient care in primary care facilities; provision of adequate supply of quality medicines and blood pressure monitors; comprehensive training for healthcare workers at all levels on latest practices in hypertension treatment; and team-based care for counseling and follow up of the patients.
It also seeks to create patient-centered services to improve patient support; reduce reliance on bigger hospitals far away from the patient’s home and increase in the utilization of “Health and wellness centers” and primary health centers; and provide for regular monitoring of health facilities and prompt feedback to program managers to bridge gaps if any in a timely manner.
Dr.Balram Bhargava, ICMR Director General said, “approximately 20 crore adults in India have hypertension. Everyone above the age of 30 years should get BP measured once a year and adopt a healthy lifestyle very early in life. Prevention and treatment of hypertension is far safer for patients than expensive interventions like bypass surgery and dialysis”.
Dr Henk Bekedam, WHO Representative to India, said, “Hypertension is a silent killer. Treatment of hypertension is simple, effective, easily available and needs to be continued lifelong. The World Health Organization has prioritized Universal Health Coverage, and the India Hypertension Control Initiative serves as an excellent example of a free program that improves the health of the Indian people,”