PAHO/WHO enhancing health care providers on cardiovascular diseases

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The Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) Monday opened a two-day workshop at the Mariott Hotel, Kingston Georgetown for health care providers in the country to build capacity in managing cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Guyana.

Globally cardiovascular, or heart, diseases are the leading cause of death; this is according to Dr. Paul Edwards, a specialist in health systems from PAHO/WHO said at the opening of the workshop.

“An estimated 17.9 million individuals died from CVDs in 2016, representing 31 percent of all global deaths; of these deaths 85 percent were due to heart attack and stroke and ¾ of these deaths occurred in low and middle-income countries,” Dr. Edwards said.

Dr. Paul Edwards, a specialist in health systems from PAHO/WHO

Risk factors in cardiovascular diseases and other non-communicable diseases include less access to effective health care services. Reports show that primary health care programmes are not equipped to detect the disease early.

“As a result, many of these persons are detected late in the course of the disease and die younger from CVDs and other NCDs often in their most productive years,” Dr Edwards said.

He said that in Guyana, these diseases are burdensome as they contribute to poverty, catastrophic health spending and high out of pocket expenditure at the house-to-household level.

“In Guyana, as you are totally cognizant of the disease burden is mainly that of chronic NCDs and resultant complications.”

With the five leading causes of death in Guyana being heart disease, hypertension, stroke, diabetes and cancers, PAHO/WHO recommended interventions for prevention and control.

“Examples include comprehensive tobacco control policies, taxation to reduce the intake of food that are high in fat, sugar and salt; building walking and cycling paths to increase physical activity; strategies to reduce the harmful use of alcohol and providing healthy school meals to children,” he stated.

According to Dr. Edwards, when these interventions are used together, nearly 75 per cent of these deaths may be prevented.

However, he said there are major gaps in the implementation of these preventions, particularly at the primary health care level.

Dr. Edwards said that diet plays an important role when dealing with diseases.

“Guyana is not immune to the effects of globalization as Western lifestyles have infiltrated our culture, causing unhealthy modifications to our diet.

“We now consume more foods high in trans-fat and salt.”

The workshop includes health care providers from the administrative regions across the country.

PAHO consultants, Dr. Kenneth Connell from Barbados and Professor Donald DiPette from South Carolina will be working with the participants to improve the health care system to manage and appropriately treat cardiovascular diseases with a series of tests on diagnosis, treatment and barriers.

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