WHO’s Healthy Hearts Program expands to 4 more towns in Iloilo

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

More Ilonggos will benefit from the Healthy Hearts Program of the World Health Organization (WHO) as the project expands to four more towns in Iloilo.

Dr. Maria Socorro Colmenares-Quiñon, Chief of the Iloilo Provincial Health Office (IPHO), mentioned that the towns of Carles, Pototan, Pavia, and the City of Passi have expressed their intent to be part of the program’s implementation.

The Healthy Hearts Program is currently being implemented in around 27 towns in the province.

The program, which was piloted in 2021 in the first district of Iloilo, seeks to improve hypertension detection and control at the primary health care level.

It also supports the creation of government programmes and policies that address the risk factors of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), particularly the four major diseases namely cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, and chronic lung diseases.

“Nakita natun nga ang performances sang atun mga local government units naga sige kag nami. Nag expand kita from the first district, nagdugang pa gid ang WHO with the DOH with 20 more sites in our municipalities,” she said in an interview.

The IPHO chief reported that based on their assessment, 86 percent of the enrolled residents with hypertensive patients in the pilot sites exhibited controlled blood pressure.

Colmenares-Quiñon said that the program has already enrolled 24,493 individuals, with 20 percent of them receiving regular consultations and an uninterrupted supply of antihypertensive medications.

She further noted that towns such as Tigbauan, Guimbal, Tubungan, Miagao, and San Joaquin have enrollees with commendable records for blood pressure control.

With the expansion of the program to 20 more towns, Ilonggos can expect improved cardiovascular health, and the province anticipates a reduction in mortality caused by NCDs

The IPHO also encouraged more Ilonggos to visit their rural health units to access medication and consultation services, emphasizing the importance of monitoring blood pressure.

It can be recalled that earlier this June, the provincial government of Iloilo, Department of Health (DOH) Western Visayas, PhilHealth, and WHO launched Phase III of the program.

“We want NCDs to be part of the mainstream programs of the province. Why? Because it is actually one of the most serious problems in health. It does not get our attention every day,” said Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr.

The governor described NCD as a lingering condition that “causes other national emergencies and crisis situations, particularly the burden on our healthcare system and the death it causes to our population.”

Data from the IPHO showed that seven of the top 10 leading causes of mortality in the province were due to NCDs.