As world marks Hypertension Day, what we lack is not medical advice

The Guardian
Published at 08:00 AM May 21 2024
Blood Pressure Check-up
Photo: File
Blood Pressure Check-up

THERE are considerable efforts nationally and globally to sharpen the capacity of governments and other stakeholders to combat non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

A total of 760 scholarships for post-graduate diploma and master’s degree in preventative cardiovascular medicine, diabetes, endocrinology, obesity and weight management have been recently offered to doctors from 52 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

That means that anything between 15 and 20 doctors from Tanzania will be participating, this according to Merck Foundation.

The foundation pointed at its partnership with African First Ladies and ministries of health and medical societies.

They have linked up to extend a one-year post-graduate diploma and two-year master’s degree courses, thus building stronger hospital sector awareness on the issues.

This intent was expressed as the world marked World Hypertension Day (May 17) on Friday. It was pointed out that efforts were being made to extend scholarships to 42 critical and underserved medical specialties including oncology, sexual and reproductive care, respiratory medicine, embryology and fertility specialties.

There are other equally sensitive fields like gastroenterology, dermatology, psychiatry, emergency and resuscitation medicine, paediatric emergency medicine, neonatal medicine, advanced surgical practice, general surgery, clinical microbiology and infectious diseases, internal medicine, trauma and orthopaedics.

As all these appear to be routine medical specialities in our universities and most specialised treatment services, the issue is to provide updates and fortify competences at all levels where such services are offered. One just hopes doctors make a difference.

Noticeably, the foundation said that the agencies linked were marking WHD with a quest for improving access to quality and equitable hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular preventive care.

What was also apparent was that little distinction was being made on the respective needs of Africa, Asia and Latin America, whereas in other spheres of development there is a special regard for Africa.

This lack of contrast or particularity illustrates the manner in which what used to be diseases of affluent societies are becoming increasingly familiar elsewhere, with the picture even being reversed.

The point is that it is even possible that the problem of NCDs starts being more of a burden in the Southern Hemisphere than in the developed Northern Hemisphere, in which case it is in the former zone that such programmes are needed most.

The point is that they focus on how doctors can help raise awareness and more credibly provide advice either on prevention or when any mild syndromes appear, as arresting the development of a disease is quite similar to prevention.

Obtaining improved training on the diseases will thus help us to further improve cardiovascular, hypertension and diabetes care.

Illustrations provided at that event show how serious the matter has become, as a sort of emergency for various levels of society, such that the foundation prepared animation films, one entitled Mark’s Pressure and another Sugar Free Jude.

Such literature is usually directed at children, and this effort reminds one of similar initiatives targeting children in school, like fighting corruption.

If the level of success that can be projected from these efforts is indicative, it follows that no solutions can be seen as matters where society relies merely on mass awareness and where constant reminders are too often bound to fail.