, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 17 – As Kenyans mark World Hypertension Day (WHD), the Ministry of Health has urged the public to take advantage of free hypertension screening being offered in public hospitals and get screened on heart diseases and other related non-communicable diseases.
Speaking during the celebrations, Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki noted that although hypertension had no symptoms and was attributed with poor dietary observance as well as poor life styles, there is need for regular and early screening to aid in its management.
“Hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases continue to give us additional, increasing disease burden both in Kenya and worldwide.”
“We are therefore urging all people to visit the nearest health centre and get screened. If you wait until it is too late it becomes very hard to manage the disease which you might end up living with for the rest of your life,” said Kariuki.
The Ministry of Health in collaboration with Kenya Cardiac Society, Healthy Heart Africa and other partners under the umbrella of ‘pima pressure’ are currently undertaking an awareness campaign, with Kenyans countrywide enjoying free blood pressure screening in public health centres during the month of May.
According to cardiologist Elijah Ogolla, hypertension is the leading cause of death among non-communicable diseases with almost 100,000 people succumbing to the disease annually.
Ogolla explained that the environment in which one is exposed to can be a major contributor to one suffering from the disease and further stated that hypertension and ones family’s history on the disease had no relation.
“One might have a family background with heart related diseases and still don’t get it, while you might have no family background with high blood pressure complications and get it. It all depends on with the environment you are brought up in right from your childhood,” Ogolla said.
According to the National STEPwise Survey of 2015, some 27 per cent of Kenyans are either overweight or obese with women being affected than men.
The report further states that eight people out of every 100 suffered from severe hypertension, with 23.8 per cent of respondents contacted found to have high blood pressure.
However, Ogolla says that gender plays no role in one being diagnosed with hypertension.
“Almost a quarter of the world population are suffering from hypertension and both genders are equally exposed. What one has to do is to ensure they are cautious of their weight, avoid excess alcohol intake, take interest on physical exercising and also ensure that the salt quantity in their meals is in the correct measures,” he said.
Last year over 100 countries took part in May measurement month and over 1.2 million people had their blood pressure screened.
In Kenya, 13,000 people were screened with the Kenya Cardiac Society aiming to screen over 30,000 people this year.