ICMR, MOHFW launched the India Hypertension Management Initiative

New Delhi: The Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) and Secretary, Department of Health Research (DHR) and Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) launched the India Hypertension Management Initiative (IHMI). The IHMI aims to reduce disability and death related to cardiovascular disease (CVD), the leading cause of death in India, by improving the control of high blood pressure (hypertension), reducing salt consumption and eliminating artificial trans-fats, leading risk factors for CVD.
IHMI is a collaborative project between ICMR, MoHFW, State Governments, World Health Organization (WHO), and Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies. A launch event at the Ministry today was co- chaired by Ms Preeti Sudan (MOHFW Health Secretary), Dr. Soumya Swaminathan (Secretary, DHR and DG, ICMR) and speakers included Mr Manoj Jhalani (AS, MD, NHM), Dr BD Athani (Special DGHS), Mr Pawan Aggarwal ( CEO, FSSAI), Dr Henk Bekedam, WHO India Representative, Dr Alka Aggarwal Singh, Country Director for Vital Strategies, State Secretaries and higher state and ICMR officials also joined the event.
Around 200 million adults in India have high blood pressure, yet control rates for the condition remain low. Studies suggest that in rural areas in India, only one quarter of people with hypertension are aware of their condition, and only around 10 percent have their blood pressure controlled. In urban areas, around 40 percent of people with hypertension are aware of their condition, and only around 20 percent have their blood pressure controlled .This initiative aims to strengthen the cardiovascular disease component of the government’s National Program for Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS). It will focus on strengthening hypertension management and monitoring at the primary health care level, within the existing healthcare system, and is aligned with WHO’s Global HEARTS Initiative and national guidelines.
The ICMR, PHFI and IHME’s ‘India: Health of the Nation’s States’ report, published this month, reports that every state now suffers from a higher burden of Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and injuries than infectious diseases and finds that the risk factors for heart attack and stroke are increasingly prevalent in every state. “Hypertension is the single biggest risk factor for heart attacks and stroke in India, and often detected only after deadly complications have occurred,” said Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Secretary, DHR and Director-General, ICMR, Government of India. “This initiative will enable state governments – working alongside the other IHMI partners – to improve treatment of hypertension to achieve our shared goal of reducing preventable deaths from cardiovascular disease.”
The Government of India has adopted a national action plan for the prevention and control of NCDs with specific targets to be achieved by 2025, including a 25 percent reduction in overall mortality from CVD, a25 percent relative reduction in the prevalence of raised blood pressure and a 30 percent reduction in salt/sodium intake. “Approximately 5 crore additional people will need to have their blood pressure effectively treated if the Government is to meet its targets on hypertension and CVD mortality,” said Ms. Preeti Sudan, Health Secretary. “The IHMI, alongside other policy initiatives, will ensure a continuum of carefor patients identified by the recent NPCDCS’s population-based screening program, that aligns with the government’s commitment to universal care.”
Dr Henk Bekedam, WHO Representative, WHO India, added: “The Government’s work to reduce hypertension and mortality from CVD will accelerate progress towards meeting national goals and the targets for improving wellbeing and reducing preventable mortality. It would also help achieve the targets set out in the Sustainable Development Goals. WHO India will support state governments in effective implementation of this project through technical guidance and supervisory monitoring to ensure patients with hypertension are adequately treated and controlled.”
Speaking from New York, Dr. Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative housed at Vital Strategies, congratulated the Government, saying: “We are pleased that the Government of India – the country with the world’s second-greatest burden of hypertension after China – is one of the first to work with the Resolve to Save Lives initiative to accelerate its efforts to reduce deaths from heart disease and stroke. Over the coming years, we will support the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and state governments in achieving their goals by strengthening existing programs, providing technical expertise, and catalyzing proven strategies that reduce heart disease and stroke.”
The IHMI is focused on five essential components of scalable treatment of hypertension. It will support the adoption of standardized simplified treatment plans for managing high blood pressure, ensure the regular and uninterrupted supply of quality-assured medications, task sharing so health workers who are accessible to patients can distribute medications already prescribed by the medical officer, and patient-centered services that reduce the barriers to treatment adherence. Data on hypertension will be improved through streamlined monitoring systems, and the lessons learned and practice-based evidence will inform further interventions to improve cardiovascular care.
IHMI will progressively roll out across districts the Government of India has selected for expansion of active screening and intensification of treatment activities for hypertension. Addressing today’s event, Dr. Alka Aggarwal Singh, Country Director for Vital Strategies said: “We are proud to work with these esteemed partners to improve the control of high blood pressure in India. In addition, Resolve to Save Lives will work with the Government to support reductions in the consumption of salt and the elimination of artificial trans-fats, both of which increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Such comprehensive policy action will help to save millions of lives.”
Also present at today’s launch event was Dr. Muruganathan, Former President – Hypertension Society of India. The India State-level Disease Burden Initiative report “India: Health of the Nation’s States” is available at http://icmr.nic.in/publications/India_Health_of_the_Nation’s_States_Report_2017.pdf