One in four Indian adults suffer from hypertension and only 10 percent of them can keep their blood pressure under control reveals the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)'s new report titled the Intensive Hypertension Control Initiative.
Conducted in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the World Health Organisation, the IHCI was launched in 2017 and has so far covered 19 states and 101 districts. The ministry believes that hypertension needs to become a national priority as it is a leading cause of premature deaths among Indian citizens. The report, however, shares data for only 26 districts that were a part of Phase 1.
This initiative was launched with the intention of bringing about a 25% relative reduction in the prevalence of raised blood pressure among Indians. To achieve this goal, approximately 4.5 crore additional people with hypertension need to get their blood pressure under control. However, many people are unaware about the signs of increased blood pressure and how to control it.
The report highlights scalable key strategies, which include patient centred care, standard treatment protocols, access to drugs, simple information system to ensure treatment and control of high BP. The initiative has already enrolled over 20 lakh patients.
While the pandemic affected the collection of data, the report shows that nearly one-fourth (23 percent) of the enrolled patients had uncontrolled BP despite continuing to attend health facilities. The patients are supposed to visit the health and wellness centres started under the Ayushman Bharat scheme or their pre-existing Primary Healthcare Centres. The proportion of patients with uncontrolled blood pressure during the most recent visit was highest in Kerala (40 percent) and lowest in Telangana (11 percent).
With a high reliance on digital health, in some states, the initiative uses a digital tool called the Simple App that helps the health ministry staff access reports and decentralise the process of providing care. This app permits them to reach out for immediate help if they need help while screening a patient. Those states which continued to use paper-systems faced challenges in retrieving patient records and had problems in ensuring continuum of care.
The ICMR has recommended that there are some states that were not able to procure most drugs and thus this process needs to be streamlined. It also wants the districts to formulate a plan to reduce the number of missed visits among patients. Close to 27 percent of the registered patients did not return for their visits in Jan-March 2021.
Another recommendation is in tandem with the government's wish to encourage participation by the private sector. For this initiative, they suggest that the private sector engages and helps in reducing the number of people with uncontrolled hypertension through screening camps.
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