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Message of the Secretary General on the theme of the World Health Day 2013

The World Health Day is celebrated on the 7th of April every year to mark to foundation of World Health Organisation (WHO) in the year 1948.  Each year WHO celebrates a theme to highlight an area of public health which is of  concern to all globally.  The theme for  the year 2013 is “High Blood Pressure”. According to the WHO studies, 1 in 3 adults has hyper tension in the South East Asia Region and more than 1.5 million people died due to it in the region annually. 

High Blood pressure, also known as Hypertension is a major contributor of avoidable deaths in India.  Cardiovascular diseases caused 2.3 million deaths in 1998 which are projected to double by the year 2020.  Hyper tension  directly responsible for 57% of all stroke diseases and 24 % of all coronary heart disease deaths in India.  Studies conducted on the revised criteria for diagnoses of Hypertension i.e systolic blood pressure >/= 140 or diastolic blood pressure >/= 90 mm Hg have shown a high prevalence of hypertension amongst urban population, both men and women.   There is an increasing trend of hypertension amongst the rural population also. The Integrated Disease Surveillance prevalence survey 2007-08 indicates that high percentage of Indians are in pre hypertension stage. Recent reports have also indicated that borderline hypertension and Stage I hypertension carry a significant cardiovascular risk and there is a need to reduce this blood pressure.

A study conducted in the adolescents population has indicated that the pathogenesis of hypertension is a process influenced by life style factors like high BMI and higher salt intake, in addition to genetic factors. The WHO is finalising a set of nine voluntary global targets that will help reduce Non communicable diseases (NCDs), particularly hypertension. These will reduce premature mortality from NCDs by 25% by 2020 - by reducing intake of alcohol and physical inactivity by 10% each and reducing intake of salt by 30%.

The Government of India has also launched a programme to reduce NCDs by including in the NRHM programme components like free state wise adult risk profiling and screening for hypertension, capacity building of MPHWs to tackle NCDs and development and dissemination of clinical guidelines for screening and prevention and management of hypertension at PHC level and IEC campaign to promote a healthy lifestyle.

The National headquarters has been conducting a 50 hours (three months) course on Health promotion through Yoga and Ayurveda. The 11th batch is underway. The course has evoked great interest among people from all walks and of all ages. The feedback from the participants is very encouraging. 

In view of all the evidence available with us I call upon all of you to spread awareness through our volunteers at the grass roots about this preventable disease by adapting a healthy life style, avoiding extra salt, increasing physical activity and also adapting our age old science of Yoga, ayurveda and meditation to prevent and control it.

However, I would like to caution and highlight, that those who are on antihypertensive medication, must not discontinue taking their medicines; as sudden withdrawal can lead to rebound and sometimes uncontrolled hypertension. Such patients must follow alternate medical therapies only under supervision of medical experts to avoid any catastrophic incidents.

On the occasion of World Health Day 2013, WHO has made available advocacy and technical guidance at their website: http://www.searo.who.int/world health day/en/index.html that can be downloaded and printed for use by the volunteers.

I wish all a healthy and happy 2013.

SP Agarwal

World Health Day Archive

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