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Government challenged on hypertension

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Government has been challenged to put in place deliberate policies to accelerate the fight against hypertension, a health problem that is affecting over 33 percent of Malawians.

The call has come from local organisers of the May Measurement Month 2017 ((MMM17), a worldwide screening initiative for blood pressure that has failed to register the anticipated success in the country.

Henry Ndhlovu of Moyowathu HealthCare Services said in an interview yesterday that logistical and financial challenges have marred the exercise which rolled out on May 1 and is expected to end on May 31 this year.

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According to Ndhlovu, some potential financiers of the mass screening exercise pulled out at the eleventh hour, leaving the team stranded, with no resources for instance to cater for allowances of team members helping in the exercise.

“The MMM17 is targeting individuals above the age of 18 who have not had their blood pressure measured since 2015, the aim is to raise awareness and also ensure a healthy workforce in the various institutions, because blood pressure is a silent killer,” Ndhlovu said.

In the few areas where the campaign is taking place, Ndhlovu said strides have been made in raising awareness and supplying diet and lifestyle treatment advice to all the clients.

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He said they expected to screen at least 170,000 people which is one percent of the 17 million Malawians in the major cities of Lilongwe, Mzuzu, Zomba and Blantyre

“We hope government will use the data obtained on untreated hypertension to improve local screening facilities and policies and thereby reducing the country and even the global burden of the disease,” he added.

Spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, Adrian Chikumbe, was not available to comment on why government has not supported the cause.

This year, the International Society of Hypertension (ISH) and Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), governments, organisations and health professionals expect to screen over 25 million adults from 100 countries through the MMM17.

Statistics from the World Health Organisation indicates that hypertension contributes to 10 million deaths per year worldwide.

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