Today is the 10th anniversary of the World Heart Day. To commemorate the occasion the World Heart Federation (WHF) has released its ‘State of the Heart’ report. The report has been put together by the WHF in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Economic Forum (WEF). The WHF has put out this report ‘ to reflect on the great achievements in cardiovascular disease (CVD) over the past decade, and raises awareness of the challenges still ahead of us in the fight against the number one killer worldwide.’
Every year more than 17 mn people die of Cardio-Vascular Disease (CVD). 82% of these deaths are in developing countries like India. Many of these deaths can be easily prevented if adequate awareness is created about the lifestyle modifications needed to combat CVD’s. A balanced diet, regular exercise, management of stress and avoiding tobacco can itself help save many lives, but many people particularly in the developing world either do not know about these simple measures or do not attach much importance to them, until of course they fall prey to the disease.
The CVD report traces the contours of the global fight against CVD’s and lists ten of its most significant achievements. It also highlights some important challenges, which continue to obstruct the global effort in combating CVD’s.
The key achievements listed in the report are categorised under
Recognition of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) of which CVD is the number one killer, as an urgent public health priority by the United Nations (UN). On 13th May 2010 the UN General Assembly voted unanimously for UN Resolution 64/265 to hold a Summit on NCDs in September 2011
The widespread adoption of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which catalyzed global action towards a smoke-free world
The launch of awareness campaigns to highlight the importance of diet and physical activity on heart health
Expanded efforts by organizations to mobilize companies to invest in workplace-wellness initiatives to promote health amongst employees
Improved recognition of the symptoms and treatment for heart attacks
The introduction of quality improvement programmes within hospitals
Improved public awareness of, and access to, CVD healthcare in developing countries
The report also highlights the ongoing challenges in combating CVD’s and seeks ways and means to partner various stakeholders in this effort. The challenges identified are the following.
- Secure an outcomes statement at the UN High Level Summit on NCDs, taking place in September 2011
- Enhance benefits of smoking cessation and implement affordable smoking cessation programmes at the community level
- Increase access to affordable, quality essential medicines for CVD in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMIC’s)
- Close disparities in CVD health
- Increase the prevalence of workplace-wellness initiatives
- Integrate CVD prevention, detection and treatment into primary healthcare setting.
- Increase the CVD health workforce
- Strengthen global, regional and national partnerships
- Improve data collection and monitoring of care provided to coronary heart disease patients
It is easy to see some of these challenges in the Indian context and they do have a ring of truth about them. We need a sustained and concerted effort along these lines to make some progress in fighting CVD’s. We need money, a dedicated task force, governmental support and a single-minded focus to make a serious difference.
The fight must go on.