The Ministry of Health in conjunction with the Kenya Cardiac Society and other stakeholders have today launched a month long campaign that will screen Kenyans for increased blood pressure, as the government steps up its war against Cardiovascular Diseases.
The campaign dubbed Pima Pressure is part of the May Measurement Month and will see the Ministry set up free screening stations in the country’s referral hospitals, public universities and various public pick up points. The Ministry plans to screen at least 200,000 people across the nation and will provide cardiovascular health education at the national and community level.
According to the National Stepwise Survey of 2015, almost one in four Kenyans is living with hypertension and more than half of Kenyans have never had their blood pressure measured. In addition, more than 90 percent of those undergoing treatment for hypertension have not attained control of the disease.
Speaking during the launch of the Campaign, Prof Elijah Ogola -a cardiologist- observed that Cardiovascular Diseases rank second after infectious diseases as the top contributor to Kenya’s mortality burden. He at the same time noted that hypertension is the most common
Cardiovascular Disease with estimates from the World Health Organization indicating that three in 10 people are living with the condition.
“We want to encourage all Kenyans to regularly measure their blood pressure because awareness is the first step to better health. We will have free blood pressure measurement and health education at various locations in the country during the campaign period. These locations shall be communicated at the beginning of the campaign,” he explained.
The Steps Survey 2015 also revealed that more than five million Kenyans currently consume some form of tobacco products. One million Kenyans consume alcohol on a daily basis; three million are physically inactive and over 40 million consume an unhealthy diet. The Ministry was keen on addressing the growing burden of Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and would implement the National NCD Strategy.
“There is an urgent need for sustained public awareness campaigns and interventions to reduce these risk factors and the burden of cardiovascular diseases in Kenya. The National NCD Strategy and key regulations to control tobacco and alcohol use are in place. They are all geared towards reducing the risk of developing these diseases,” stated Dr. Loise Nyanjau from the health ministry.
She further acknowledged the critical role that civil society organizations and initiatives have played in advocacy and awareness creation such as the Healthy Heart Africa programme has been screening and initiating treatment on hypertension in various counties in Kenya.
It was also announced that the Ministry would commemorate World Hypertension Day on May 17 at Uhuru Park in partnership with the Nairobi County government.