The health ministers committed to according high priority to the prevention and control of high blood pressure and to strive towards measurable reduction in the prevalence of hypertension in the Region by 2025. Hypertension is the leading risk factor for mortality worldwide, causing 9 million deaths each year. In South-East Asia every third adult is affected by hypertension, with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney failure. The poor are disproportionately affected by hypertension.
India hosted the thirty-first meeting of ministers of health of the WHO South-East Asia region today. The ministers reviewed progress on decisions and recommendations from previous meetings of ministers of health.
The New Delhi declaration on high blood pressure was adopted by the Health Ministers in recognition of the fact that while noncommunicable diseases account for 55% of the 14.5 million total deaths in the Region; cardiovascular diseases alone account for 25% of all deaths (3.6 million). The Ministers voiced their concern that delays in diagnosis and limited access to treatment can have catastrophic consequences for the poor.
"High blood pressure is a strong and reliable warning signal that health is at risk and that something needs to be done. But it often shows no symptoms for years and by the time symptoms appear, cardiovascular disease is advanced and the risk of heart attack or a stroke is increased" said WHO Director General, Dr Margaret Chan. "The public health challenge is to get more people routinely tested early to enable proper management of high blood pressure through life style change or medication" she added.
India's Minister for Health and Family Welfare Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad highlighted that India is soon to be certified as a polio free country. He acknowledged WHO undivided support to the Government's strong political will and leadership at the highest levels.