A United States health official is predicting an improvement in the health of Barbadians, as well as the economy, as Government looks to expand a programme to combat cardiovascular diseases (CVD), including heart attacks and strokes.
Dr Lorna English of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the Standardized Hypertension Treatment Project (SHTP) undertaken over an 18 month period beginning in 2014 was such a success that it became a model for a broader global programme, Global Hearts, a collaborative effort between the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO), along with other partners, aimed at scaling up prevention and control of CVD, especially in developing countries.
In response to the high rates of hypertension here, Barbados, with support from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the CDC, introduced the SHTP as a pilot at the Winston Scott Polyclinic and the Edgar Cochrane Polyclinic.
Under the project, which involved the availability of core medications, the use of a standardized treatment algorithm, and the strengthening of the health care system, 30,000 hypertensive patients were engaged in a standardized protocol of care, which led to a 14 per cent reduction in systolic pressure.
English said that based on the positive results, the CDC, WHO and PAHO, and other global partners integrated the use of these tools in the Global Heart Initiative in 2016.
“So Barbados and the PAHO region are global leaders in moving this work forward. It is no surprise that many other countries throughout the world are interested in applying these same, simple, cost effective approaches for hypertension control. There are several countries that are already beginning to use these tools from the Global Hearts Technical packages,” English said yesterday at a press conference highlighting the SHTP’s successes.
“As you know hypertension is the leading risk factor for cardio-vascular disease and is responsible for over nine million preventable global deaths annually. Unfortunately, Caribbean countries have not escaped this epidemic, Barbados as well. You are all significantly impacted by high rates of hypertension,” she stressed.
According to Minister of Health John Boyce, some 40,000 Barbadians suffer from hypertension, making it the most common non-communicable disease here.
Boyce said between 18,000 and 20,000 Barbadians attend the nine polyclinics across the island for the management of their hypertension, and the Barbados National Registry has shown that 70 per cent to 80 per cent of people with cardio-vascular disease, stroke or heart attack have hypertension, diabetes, or both as an intermediate risk factor.