The World Health Organization (WHO) has released a new report that underlines the critical issue of poor hypertension care, which affects nearly 80% of those diagnosed with the condition. The report was released during the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly and posits that more effective treatment could prevent over 76 million deaths globally by 2050.
The data further showed that the number of hypertension cases doubled from 650 million in 1990 to 1.3 billion in 2019. Worryingly, almost half of the people with hypertension are unaware that they have the condition.
Despite the alarming numbers, hypertension management remains one of the most cost-effective interventions in healthcare.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of WHO, stated that hypertension care can be effectively managed with “simple, low-cost medication regimens,” but only about one in five people with the condition has it under control. Dr. Tedros further pointed out that hypertension control programs are “neglected, under-prioritized, and vastly underfunded.”
Dr. Tedros argued that stronger hypertension control must be an integral part of every nation’s journey toward universal health coverage. This initiative should focus on “well-functioning, equitable, and resilient health systems” founded on primary healthcare.
Michael R. Bloomberg, WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases and Injuries, also emphasized the importance of treating hypertension. He pointed out that “most heart attacks and strokes in the world today can be prevented with affordable, safe, accessible medicines and other interventions, such as sodium reduction.”
According to Bloomberg, focusing on primary healthcare can not only save lives but also result in “billions of dollars a year” in savings.
The WHO report suggests that the impact of effective treatment could be staggering. Over the next 27 years, adequate hypertension management could prevent:
The WHO report serves as a dire warning and a call to action for governments and healthcare systems worldwide. Despite being one of the most cost-effective conditions to treat, hypertension remains shockingly under-managed.
Policymakers and healthcare providers need to prioritize hypertension management to avert a looming healthcare crisis that could result in millions of preventable deaths and billions of dollars in avoidable healthcare costs.
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