Stakeholder Consultation on Hypertension Control and Prevention in India

With the rising prevalence of Non-communicable (NCDs) in India and hypertension being an important risk factor, it was important to prioritise it and place suitable recommendations in front of our policy makers. 

Keeping this in mind Consumer VOICE planned for a series of dialogues with various stakeholders including doctors, experts, policy makers and CSOs at the central level to be followed up in different states. The first event was event therefore was held in New Delhi at the Constitution Club of India on May 29th from11 am onwards. 

Objectives:

  • A series of community dialogues to prioritize NCDs and HTN as a public health concern
  • Create awareness and raise political will of policy makers
  • Seek opinion and participation of stakeholders 
  • Spread the message of hypertension prevention and control among consumers

The event witnessed a close participation of select but a quality gathering of experts and policy makers. Dr Aparna Jaswal, Director, Fortis Escorts in her wonderful presentation spoke about the importance to keeping heart healthy from the very young. She spoke about why and how young adults fall prey to stroke and cardiac arrest and heart attack and the signs one should look for. Her interactive presentation also highlighted when people without any previous record of heart ailment still collapse and how they can be saved. She proposed that awareness programs should start from the very young age of 18 years, and government should think of introducing teaching CPR at community centres and colleges. 

Dr Yogesh Bahurupi, Associate Professor, Dept of Family and Community Medicine AIIMS, Rishikesh highlighted the importance of Data Science Transformation and Artificial Intelligence and digital transformation. He stressed on the focus of prevention which if done systematically can prevent hundreds of lives.  Artificial intelligence is the way forward for patients in remote areas where a doctor sitting kilometres away can still analyse the irregular heartbeats of a remote patient. 

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Dr Archisman Mohapatra, Executive Director, GRID Council in his presentation emphasised the role of community health workers and primary healthcare centres. If community health services can be strengthened then the burden at the district hospitals is greatly reduced. While talking of the global scenario of NCDs, he spoke about the number of people being left untreated because it is not diagnosed. He also highlighted that hypertension is now no longer a disease of the urban middle or higher class but has penetrated deep into the rural sector. Significant proportion of hypertensives in India are either untreated or under-treated and this is attributed to lack of consistent access to anti-hypertensive medication. 

Representing the CSOs, Mr Ashim Sanyal, COO, Consumer VOICE spoke about the socio-economic burden that hypertension has accounts for. Treating NCD is on priority but it has to be strongly supplemented with population-based services aimed at health promotion and action on social determinants of health along with individual services.  He proposed for a multi-sectoral action addressing the social determinants and strengthening of health systems for universal coverage to population and individual services is required. Promotion of wellness activities and targeted communication at the community level is needed.

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The event also witnessed meaningful participation from several policy makers, some through their video message or online and some being present physically. Through a video message, BJD MP Shri Sujeet Kumar applauded the efforts of Consumer VOICE for holding the stakeholder consultation on hypertension prevention and control in India. He spoke about the high mortality rates in India and rising prevalence of NCDs in India and also in his home state of Odisha. To achieve the goal of reducing mortality rate in India due to NCDs, one must stress on the importance of primary healthcare centers. He emphasized the importance of strengthening primary and community health care centers in India and also urged consumers to make lifestyle changes. Promised his full support to our project goals through his office

It was an honor to have Lt.Gen.(Retd) Dr. DP Vats from BJP physically present in the occasion. Acknowledging the role of community health workers, Dr. DP Vats said that to improve India’s healthcare system primary field-level frontline workers, community health workers and nurses are crucial for delivering high quality community-based services especially for hypertension and other non-communicable diseases. He pledged his support and asked for his intervention areas. 

Dr Kirit Premjibhai Solanki, BJP MP who joined the consultation through zoom appreciated the work of Consumer VOICE in all spheres. While talking about the efforts that Consumer VOICE was putting in for generating awareness among consumers to measure and monitor their blood pressure regularly, he also stressed on the need to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  He stressed on the need for all stakeholders to work together to uphold the progress of SDGs. 

IEC materials were also distributed in the event and also a video on patient voices was shown in the workshop. Several patients from different states were captured in the video.

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