In a significant achievement and recognition of the country’s efforts against hypertension, India has won a UN award for its “India Hypertension Control Initiative (IHCI)”, a large-scale hypertension intervention under National Health Mission.
In an official release, the Government of India (GOI) said IHCI has been recognized for its exceptional work within India’s existing primary healthcare system.
A collaborative initiative of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), State Governments and the World Health Organization-India, IHCI has won the ‘2022 UN Interagency Task Force, and WHO Special Programme on Primary Health Care Award’ at the UN General Assembly side event held on September 21 in New York, US.
According to the release, the significance of the initiative can be adjudged from the fact that one in four adults in India has high blood pressure. It said the control of hypertension at the primary care system level will help in reducing deaths due to heart attacks, stroke and kidney failures.
“The award recognizes outstanding commitment and action of India to: (i) prevent and control Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and (ii) deliver integrated people-centric primary care,” the GoI release said.
The UN Task Force has identified organisation which has a multisectoral approach in the prevention and control of NCDs and multisectoral action with demonstrated results in primary care for prevention and control of NCDs and related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
IHCI has been able to leverage and strengthen the existing health care delivery system, hypertension control interventions and improve the linkages between populations-based screening initiatives with health care.
The initiative was launched in 2017 and expanded in a phased manner to cover more than 130 Districts across 23 States. Under the initiative, more than 34 lakh people with hypertension are taking treatment in government health facilities, including Health Wellness Centres (HWCs).
The project strategies are easily scalable within the health system. The strategies include a simple drug-dose-specific standard treatment protocol, ensuring adequate quantity of protocol medications, decentralization of care with follow-up and refills of medicines at Health Wellness Centres, task sharing involving all health staff and a powerful real-time information system which can track every patient for follow-up and blood pressure control.
Under IHCI, nearly half of those who were treated had blood pressure under control.
The IHCI complements the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke (NPCDCS) of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India. IHCI accelerates the achievement of targets of the Government of India by ensuring a continuum of care and giving a boost to the ongoing “Ayushman Bharat” programme.
Since the rollout of the project, the initiative has led to effective coordination among multiple partners.
“The implementation of state-specific hypertension treatment protocols, drug management and availability of protocol drugs in all health facilities has been streamlined. Effective training and capacity building has also been ensured. For the first time, cohort monitoring system for systematic and accurate information on hypertension control rates is being used,” the government said.
IHCI currently has a steering committee chaired by Union Health Secretary and comprises stakeholders from partner institutions and WHO. Another Technical Advisory Group (TAG) chaired by DG ICMR and Co-chaired by WR-India monitors and supervises the implementation of the initiative.
As of September 21, IHCI is being implemented in 138 districts from 23 states and has enrolled 34,53,452 Hypertension patients and 13,35,297 diabetes patients.
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