India shows way to scale up hypertension control through primary health care
Launched in eight countries in 2017, the joint WHO and RESOLVE to Save Lives initiative aims to improve heart health worldwide by providing countries with proven, affordable and scalable solutions to prevent and treat cardiovascular diseases. Its vision is to save 100 million lives in the next 30 years.
Of the countries already engaged in the initiative, India is the first to set up a new mechanism aimed at delivering services for the control of hypertension – or elevated blood pressure - at the primary care level. More than 200 million adults in India have hypertension, yet just 1 in 7 have their disease under control. In rural India, only one quarter of people with hypertension are aware of their condition; in urban India, it is less than half.
In late 2017, when funding became available through RESOLVE to Save Lives, and under the coordination and administrative support of the WHO Country Office in India, five states were identified for pilot implementation (Kerala, Punjab, Maharashtra, Telangana and Madhya Pradesh); 19 cardiovascular health officers were recruited, trained and deployed; standardized treatment protocols were adopted; equipment and drugs were purchased, and monitoring mechanisms were established. To date more than 281,000 patients have benefitted from the programme, and the first round of results will be available in 2019. In-country advocacy and funding led the states to prioritize the prevention and control of cardiovascular diseases and generated the political will which made this progress possible.