New Delhi [India], September 29 (ANI): The South-East Asia-HEARTS, also known as SEAHEARTS, has been initiated by countries across the region to reduce the burden of cardiovascular diseases.
Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia said,"Integrated efforts are being made through SEAHEARTS for scaling up hypertension and diabetes treatment, coverage, and control, bringing together all non-communicable diseases risk reduction and management on a single platform. We are at a history-defining juncture. With political will and investment in primary health care, countries can accelerate SEAHEARTS strategies to reduce cardiovascular burden and save millions of lives."Cardiovascular diseases, a leading cause of death, accounts for 3.9 million deaths in the WHO South-East Asia Region every year, which is a quarter of all deaths from non-communicable diseases (NCDs), with most of them being preventable.
The major causes of cardiovascular-related deaths are caused due to tobacco and alcohol use, unhealthy diets, high blood pressure and high blood glucose levels, according to the statement by the WHO.
Moreover, 29 per cent of adults use tobacco, according to the statement.
Whereas, the average daily salt consumption in the region is 8 grams against the WHO-recommended levels of less than 5 grams per person per day.
Adding to this, the WHO stated that nearly 245 million people are suffering from high blood pressure and are unaware of their condition. However, nearly 100 million adults have diabetes.
"An integrated approach is important to improve NCD management and address risk factors for cardiovascular diseases We must scale up primary care capacities to address multiple chronic conditions, with integration of complementary programmes, to ensure we don't miss opportunities for diagnosisand management of NCDs," Khetrapal said.
It has been a flagship priority to address the NCDs since 2014.
"Countries have been adopting multisectoral action plans and evidence-based 'best buy' interventions to prevent and manage NCDs," the statement said.
The region witnessed a decline in premature deaths from cardiovascular diseases between 2010 and 2019 and has gone down from 121 per 100,000 to 108 per 100,000.
However, the progress has been uneven and insufficient to reach the SDG target of a 30 per cent reduction in NCD deaths by 2030, the statement said.
The health ministry officials, technical experts, and partners met in June this year to drive progress and adopted the'Dhaka Call to Action' to scale up control and management of cardiovascular diseases by accelerating the SEAHEARTS initiative.
"Realistic but ambitious interim milestones were set for 2025, which seek to place 100 million people with hypertension and/or diabetes on protocol-based management; cover one billion people with at least three WHO MPOWER tobacco control measures; cover one billion with at least one WHO SHAKE salt-reduction measure and protect two billion people from the harm of trans fatty acids through WHO REPLACE package best practices or complementary policy measures," the statement added.
Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Timor-Leste set up national targets that will contribute towards achieving the target of placing 100 million people with hypertension or diabetes on protocol-based management.
"India alone is aiming at covering 75 million people by 2025," the statement said.
Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand have already implemented three MPOWER measures.
"Ten countries have identified baseline average salt intake. Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka are including salt content in food labelling to help consumers make healthy choices," it added.
Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand have adopted regulations eliminating trans fatty acids from their food supply, protecting 1.7 billion people from the harms of trans fatty acids.
Moreover, the SEAHEARTS initiative seeks to leverage these efforts to further accelerate progress to promote simplified treatment protocols for hypertension and diabetes,"ensure continuity of care and supply of medicines, and strengthen digital information systems to track patients' progress."Meanwhile, it also calls for the expansion of tobacco control measures, stronger regulatory actions against trans fatty acids, guiding countries to set targets for salt in food and meals, restricting marketing of food and beverages high in salt, sugar, and fats to children, and raising consumer awareness.
"By adopting innovative approaches, accelerating efforts to address risk factors, and ensuring a seamless care continuum, we can turn the tide against cardiovascular diseases ensuring everyone, everywhere goes on to live long and healthy lives," Khetrapal Singh added. (ANI)