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World Health Organization Publication On Hypertension


Worldwide, approximately one-third of the population experiences hypertension, and an alarming four out of five individuals fail to maintain proper control over this condition, as reported in the inaugural World Health Organization (WHO) publication on hypertension, unveiled in September.



Mains Question:

India’s strategy in dealing with hypertension has been largely inadequate. Analyse. (10 marks, 150 words).

Hypertension and associated issues:

Elevated blood pressure that exceeds 140/90 represents a significant contributing factor to cardiovascular ailments like heart attacks and strokes, making it the leading cause of both illness and mortality.

It’s crucial to understand that the health hazards linked to hypertension don’t suddenly emerge when blood pressure crosses the 140/90 threshold.

Instead, they exist along a spectrum, even at levels below the clinical definition of hypertension, particularly in individuals with diabetes, obesity, and those who use tobacco and alcohol.

More on the WHO Report:

  • According to the WHO report, which relies on data from 2019, approximately 188 million Indian adults aged 30 to 79 years suffer from hypertension.
  • Among them, only 37% have received an official diagnosis, while 30% are undergoing treatment, and a mere 15% have their hypertension effectively controlled.
  • Interestingly, women seem to fare slightly better than men when it comes to the diagnosis, treatment, and control of the condition.
  • A February 2022 study, albeit with incomplete data from some regions in India, revealed that stroke incidence ranged from 108 to 172 cases per 100,000 people per year, with a one-month case fatality rate of 18% to 42%.
  • Furthermore, the 2019 Global Burden of Disease report identified heart attacks as the leading cause of death and disability in India.

India’s efforts in this direction:

India Hypertension Control Initiative (IHCI)Launched in 2018, IHCI has effectively enrolled 5.8 million individuals with hypertension for treatment across 27 States as of June 2023. Significantly, as of March 2021, 48% of patients enrolled at primary health centers and 55% at health wellness centers achieved successful blood pressure control.

Shortcomings in India’s approach:

  • Research findings indicate that consuming more than five grams of salt daily is linked to causing hypertension in a significant proportion of cases, ranging from 17% to 30%.
  • Despite the international mandate for member States to achieve a 30% relative reduction in the average salt intake of their populations by 2025, India has not fully adopted many of the recommended strategies outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO) to reduce salt consumption.
  • A study conducted in four Indian States in 2021 uncovered elevated levels of salt and sugar in packaged food products.

Way Forward:

It is crucial to swiftly mandate front-of-pack nutrition labeling, promote the reformulation of food products to reduce salt content, and enhance public awareness about reducing salt intake. Equally important is the urgent need to significantly expand the access to treatment for individuals with hypertension and maintain effective blood pressure management.

December 2023