ILOILO – After the successful implementation of the Healthy Heart Project in Iloilo province, particularly in the 1st District, the Department of Health (DOH) is eyeing to replicate the program in other parts of the province as well as in the whole Western Visayas.
The Healthy Heart Project is a program of the World Health Organization (WHO) that aims to reduce mortality caused by non-communicable diseases ( NCDs) such as cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases.
The project includes a package of interventions and technical assistance to local government units (LGUs) to include the promotion of healthy lifestyles, the implementation of evidence-based treatment protocols, access to essential medicines for NCDs, and the implementation of monitoring systems.
The I l oilo provincial government has successfully piloted the project in the 1st District since January 2021.
“We would like to see it implemented regionwide,” said DOH-6 regional director Adriano P. Suba- an during yesterday’s press conference in line with the celebration of World Heart Day, wherein Iloilo was chosen by the WHO to be its very first host in the entire country.
Suba-an lauded Iloilo’s best practices in the implementation of the project, such as the use of forecasting tools in the procurement of medicines, which gives LGUs a hint on how much budget they will be needing; the tapping and capacitating of barangay health workers by providing them with the necessary tools like education information and communication materials for health education and health teaching, among others.
Relative to this, yesterday, the WHO and DOH- 6 also launched the Western Visayas NCD Clubs at the National Museum of the PhilippinesWestern Visayas.
The health club is a critical element of an effective NCD response to promote interventions to prevent and control them, and a powerful strategy to ensure that people living with CVDs are active participants and their contribution is essential to many aspects of the NCD response — from advocacy, awareness-raising, reinforcing political commitment, and promoting social accountability and community action.
Meanwhile, WHOPhilippines officer-in-charge Dr. Graham Harrison lauded the strong leadership and collaboration between the Iloilo provincial government headed by Gov. Arthur Defensor Jr. and the DOH-6 in ensuring the success of the program.
“We do hope other provinces and regions may learn from here and step forward in trying to beat NCDs as well,” said Harrison.
Defensor echoed the same and also wants to see the program extended in the whole province.
“We are happy to work with DOH and WHO, especially on preventive side,” he said.
Globally, CVDs are considered to be one of the major killers in the world. It accounts for over one-third of all deaths, with hypertension as its leading risk factor.
In Western Visayas, according to Suba- an, 2019 data showed that hypertension was the third leading cause of morbidity, with 29,331 hypertensive individuals who sought consultation in health facilities for screening and medication refills.
He explained that complications of hypertension such as hypertensive cardiovascular diseases and cerebro-vascular diseases are the second and third leading causes of mortalities or deaths in the region, respectively. This accounted for a total of 12,893 deaths in 2019.
Moreover, in 2020, DOH-6 data showed that the number of screened and newly identified hypertensive patients in the region accounted for 60,947 hypertensive individuals in 2020.
In the same year, there were a total of 44,020 patients who sought consultation at the health facilities.
“This is an increase of approximately 133 percent and may be attributed to increased screening and detection of hypertension even during the pandemic,” said Suba-an.
Meanwhile, to address this, the regional director said the DOH has been capacitating its partner health workers in LGUs to conduct screening to detect hypertension through the PhilPEN risk assessment of the Philippine Package for Essential NCD Services, wherein all adults aged 20 years old and above should be screened.
In 2020, a total of 351,796 adults were screened by LGU health workers.
Through WHO as a partner, Suba-an cited that seven towns in Iloilo are recipients of the Healthy Hearts Project, and these include: Igbaras, Guimbal, Miag-ao, San Joaquin, Tigbauan, Tubungan, and Oton.
The Healthy Heart Project has resulted in an increased number of patients in the province who successfully managed their blood pressure (BP).
Of the 17,775 active patients enrolled until June 2022, 81.8 percent or 14,532 patients recorded a controlled BP.
On t he other hand, yesterday’s celebration of World Heart Day was highlighted by the illumination of the provincial capitol’s façade, symbolizing the urgent call for a massive action for the prevention and control of cardiovascular diseases.
This year’s celebration is anchored on the theme, “Magasiga ang Aton Kasing-Kasing.