The Health Ministers of 11 SEARO countries adopted the New Delhi Declaration on High Blood Pressure on 10 September 2013 at the 31st Meeting of Health Ministers. The Health Ministers of Member States of the WHO South-East Asia Region participating in the Thirty-first Health Ministers’ Meeting in New Delhi, India, appreciated the efforts made by Member States and partners in the South-East Asia Region for prevention and control of high blood pressure.
It is important to note that hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is the leading risk factor for mortality worldwide, causing 9 million deaths each year. As per the World Health Organization, hypertension affects one out of three adults in the South-East Asia Region and that it increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney failure, contributing to premature death and disability.
As a result, there is a need of emphasising the importance and need for technology transfer as a means to empower developing countries and the important role of generic medicines in the realisation of the right to health. The factors which contribute primarily to hypertension include poverty, uneven distribution of wealth, lack of education, rapid urbanisation and other social and environment determinants of health.
The major highlights of the declaration adopted include:
• To accord high priority to the prevention and control of high blood pressure and strive towards achieving the global voluntary targets and indicators for prevention and control of non-communicable diseases, included in the global monitoring framework and endorsed by the Sixty-sixth World Health Assembly, including 25 percent relative reduction in the prevalence of hypertension by 2025.
• To provide leadership and promote active collaborations among key multisectoral stakeholders in society such as education, agriculture, finance, communications, trade, transport, urban planning, environment, sports and youth affairs, in order to create health promoting environments that empower individuals, families and communities to make healthy choices and lead healthy lives.
• To develop, strengthen and implement national multisectoral policies and action plans to promote physical activity and healthy diet, and reduce exposure to tobacco and harmful use of alcohol.
• To continue to implement the Political Declaration of the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases, of September 2011, as well as the WHO 2013–2020 Action Plan for the Global Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases.
• To implement national salt reduction strategies such as creating public awareness and health education through mass media, food labelling, and regulation of the food industry in order to reduce salt levels in processed food.
• To create healthy environments by adopting effective national legislation for 100 percent tobacco smoke-free environments in all indoor workplaces, public transport, indoor public places and other public places consistent with Article 8 (Protection from exposure to tobacco smoke) of the WHO FCTC.
• To promote universal access to cost-effective prevention and treatment through generic medicines and care for integrated management of non-communicable diseases including hypertension through a primary health care approach.
• To strengthen health systems that support primary health care, to ensure an adequate and well-trained workforce, and the availability of affordable, safe, effective and quality medicines and technologies for prevention and control of major non-communicable diseases including hypertension.
• To promote access to cost-effective, affordable and quality medicines for all.
• To foster the development and transfer of technology to developing countries, on mutually agreed terms aligned with national priorities.
• To build and strengthen experience-sharing mechanisms among Member States for capacity building.
• To strengthen national health information systems, for effective surveillance and monitoring of non-communicable diseases and their risk factors including hypertension, and to build national capacity for quality research and development.
• To provide adequate and sustained resources through domestic and external channels, and explore innovative financing mechanisms for achieving universal health coverage for integrated prevention and control of non-communicable diseases including hypertension.