News / Health

World Health Day Raises Awareness of Deadliest Condition

World Health Day Raises Awareness About High Blood Pressurei
April 04, 2013 11:39 PM
This year, the theme of World Health Day - being marked on April 7th - is high blood pressure. It's one of the world’s biggest killers yet doctors say few people know much about it. In parts of Africa and Asia, it's a huge problem and as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, the first challenge is diagnosing it.
Henry Ridgwell
It is one of the world’s biggest killers, yet doctors say few people know much about it. This year the theme of World Health Day - on April 7 - is high blood pressure. It’s a huge problem in parts of Africa and Asia.  The first challenge is diagnosing the condition.

On an evening at Dakar beach in Senegal, the sands are packed with people exercising.
A recent World Health Organization report indicated that one out of eight Senegalese women aged over 20 are obese - and suffer from related diseases like high blood pressure.

Mamaty Ndiaye says she is trying to persuade her family to start getting more active.

She says they have diabetes and high blood pressure. She says she advises them to walk and to exercise a little more.

The World Health Organization has produced a hard-hitting video as part of its campaign to raise awareness of the dangers.  It says more than one in three adults worldwide has high blood pressure.  In some low-income African countries prevalence is as high as 40 percent.

Professor Majid Ezzati is Chair in Global Environmental Health at Imperial College London.

“Salt is perhaps the most important dietary determinant of high blood pressure," said Ezzati. "And that’s actually something that is culturally and geographically driven.  And many high income countries have successfully removed salt from prepared and packaged food.”

Ezzati says high blood pressure puts a huge burden on people and societies.

“It is the leading risk factor for mortality and for disease burden worldwide," he said. "It is associated obviously with cardiovascular diseases, large effects on strokes which are very common throughout Asia, on heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases.”

In remote areas, doctors say one of the biggest problems is accessing healthcare.  So a team of medics has developed a solar-powered blood pressure monitor, hoping to transform diagnosis and treatment.  Andrew Shennan, Professor of Obstetrics at Kings College London is among the designers.

“We went into rural areas in Tanzania, in Zambia, in Zimbabwe, and we gave it to clinics that previously hadn’t even had blood pressure measurement," said Shennan. "We wanted to know whether the people would use it and whether it would result in people accessing the more sophisticated care in the central hospitals.  And actually it did exactly that.”

The monitors were originally developed to diagnose high blood pressure in pregnant women.  But Shennan says it could be adapted for any population.

“Although this is a very cheap device which we plan to sell for under 20 euros [$26], it is as accurate as the 10,000 pounds [$15,000] machines that I use on the intensive care unit," he said.

Togo is another African country battling the growing problem of high blood pressure. 

"Arterial high blood pressure, as many like to say, is a silent killer," said Dr. Edem Goeh-Akue, a cardiologist at Lomé University Hospital in Togo.. "It's a disease that we don't talk about it very often, but it's a disease which kills.  You can say it kills more people than AIDS but we don't talk about it a lot."

The World Health Organization hopes to get more people talking about one of the world’s biggest killers.

You May Like

Photogallery Belgian Security Measures Foreshadow New Normal for Europe

Rising threat of terrorism, disaffected Muslim populations and open borders, along with refugee, migrant crisis, are creating perfect storm for Europe, which some analysts fear continent is ill-suited to weather

Competing Claims of Responsibility for Mali Hotel Attack

Malian authorities ask public for help in identifying gunmen killed in attack, amid conflicting claims of responsibility from multiple jihadist groups active in the country

Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs