WHO-funded program in Iloilo logs increase in hypertensive patients

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

More people in southern Iloilo were found to have suffered from hypertension in recent years, thanks to a program spearheaded by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) country office in the Philippines.

WHO data as of Sept 25, 2022 indicated that 20,765 hypertension patients were traced in the province, with 3,069 new enrollments in the 3rd quarter of 2022.

The data noted a consistent increase in cases from the 4th quarter of 2021 with around 5,000 enrollments.

As to coverage of hypertension-related services, 39.4 percent of these patients (20,320) at an average were reported to be receiving care at health facilities as of the 3rd quarter of 2022, rising from 12.4 percent in the 4th quarter of 2021.

Of the 17,775 active patients enrolled until June 30, 2022, around 81.8 percent or 14,532 patients had controlled blood pressure, 18.2 percent or 3,240 patients had uncontrolled blood pressure, while less than 0 percent or 3 patients had no blood pressure recorded.

The data was from the WHO’s Healthy Hearts Project implemented with the Iloilo provincial government, the Department of Health-Western Visayas Center for Health Development (DOH-WV CHD), and the private organizations World Heart Federation and Resolve to Save Lives.

Pilot implementation of the project in the country was in Iloilo province’s first district, including in the towns of Guimbal, Igbaras, Miagao, Oton, San Joaquin, Tigbauan, and Tubungan.

San Joaquin town accounted for the highest percentage of enrollments for hypertension services in the 3rd quarter of 2022 (63.9 percent), apart from having one of the highest enrollments in the 4th quarter of 2021 (48.5 percent).

The sharpest rise was noted in Guimbal, which jumped from 2.4 percent in the 4th quarter of 2021 to 62.0 percent in the 3rd quarter of 2022.

The Happy Hearts Project includes a package of interventions and technical assistance to local government units to include the promotion of healthy lifestyles, implementation of evidence-based treatment protocols, access to essential medicines on non-communicable diseases, and implementation of monitoring systems.

DOH-WV CHD Regional Director Dr. Adriano Suba-an noted that the WHO figures were also consistent with their data, which indicated that in 2020, there were 60,947 hypertensive individuals, with 44,020 seeking to consult with health facilities.

Suba-an said this indicated a 133 percent increase from their 2019 data (29,331 total hypertensive individuals), due to increased screening and detection.

DOH data also indicated that hypertension-related complications including cardiovascular and cerebro-vascular diseases accounted for a total of 12,893 deaths in the region in 2019, with

Suba-an said that due to the observations noted by the provincial government and the DOH, he is optimistic that they would be able to expand and replicate the program throughout Western Visayas.

Aside from the DOH, the WHO is also working with the National Nutrition Council and the Department of Science and Technology-Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI) for programs, projects, and activities in relation to heart health.