WHO expands Healthy Hearts program in Aklan and Antique

DOH 6 Photo | Facebook

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one of the leading causes of death in the country, and the World Health Organization (WHO) is taking steps to combat the disease in Western Visayas with the expansion of its Healthy Hearts Programme.

The WHO Philippines and the Department of Health Western Visayas (DOH-6) commenced the expansion of the program to Aklan, Antique, and the remaining towns in the province of Iloilo.

This year, the program will cover additional local government units: nine in Antique, 12 in Iloilo, and 17 in Aklan.

“The province can only move forward if the people are in the best of health,” said Antique Governor Rhodora Cadiao during the launch of the program in the province on May 23.

In Iloilo, WHO and DOH-6 introduced Phase III of the program to reinforce the health department’s efforts in implementing the Healthy Hearts Technical Package at the subnational level, aligned with Universal Health Coverage principles.

“The expansion of the Healthy Hearts Programme to more districts and the entire province of Iloilo is a testament to our collective commitment to improving public health service delivery for hypertension prevention and control,” said provincial health office head Dr. Maria Socorro Colmenares-Quiñon.

It is recalled that Phase II, which ran from January 2021 to December 2022, benefited seven towns in the first district of Iloilo. At least 25,000 adults received assessment measures for CVD, and 80 percent of the beneficiaries achieved controlled blood pressure.

The 12 new recipients in Iloilo include Balasan, Dingle, Maasin, Barotac Viejo, Dumangas, San Dionisio, Bingawan, Leganes, San Miguel, Cabatuan, Leon, and Santa Barbara.

By fostering a whole-of-society approach, the Healthy Hearts Programme intensifies efforts to reduce CVD-related deaths and address other noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and chronic respiratory diseases.

“WHO will continue to advocate for integrated and universal health coverage in addressing NCDs. We need to build stronger partnerships with different localities, provinces, and regions in the country so that we can fully realize and sustain the vision of a healthy Philippines,” said Dr. Rui Paulo de Jesus, WHO Representative to the Philippines.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the top three causes of death in the country in 2023 were ischemic heart diseases, neoplasms, and cerebrovascular diseases.

Ischemic heart diseases led with 107,767 cases, or 19.0 percent of total deaths. Neoplasms followed with 60,906 deaths, accounting for about 10.7 percent, while cerebrovascular diseases accounted for 57,288 cases.

The three diseases were also the leading causes of death in 2022, according to the PSA.

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