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Over 20-Thousand turn out for NHF’s blood pressure screenings on World Hypertension Day

More than 20-thousand Jamaicans are now aware of their blood pressure readings following Wednesday’s screening blitz put on by the National Health Fund as it observed World Hypertension Day.

The NHF, as part of its 20th anniversary observations undertook the significant endeavour to get more Jamaicans to “know their numbers” and to raise awareness about high blood pressure, a condition that often goes unnoticed due to its lack of symptoms but can lead to severe health problems such as heart attacks, strokes, and kidney disease. 

The NHF collaborated with the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the Medical Association of Jamaica, non-governmental organizations, private sector entities, and churches to conduct the blood pressure screenings at more than 165 locations islandwide.

The top five parishes were Kingston – 5031, Westmoreland – 2844, St. James – 2399, Manchester – 2004, and St. Ann – 1823. Regarding the ratio of males and females screened, for every two women who were screened, one man was screened. 

The main screening locations at Sam Sharpe Square in Montego Bay, and the Half Way Tree Transport Centre in St. Andrew were a hive of activity as thousands turned out to get screened.  

At the Half Way Tree Transport Centre, the Ministry of Health and Wellness also provided body mass index (BMI) readings, and cardio recovery tests. Persons were also able to win prizes courtesy of GraceKennedy, LASCO Distributors, and Massy Distribution Limited. LASCO provided blood glucose monitoring machines which were handed out along with NHF-branded water bottles, stress balls and pens.

During the screening process, the medical personnel provided information on how persons can take steps to prevent and manage hypertension.

“We are very happy with the turnout. It is important for persons to know their numbers, in particular their blood pressure reading. Hypertension is known as the silent killer so it is absolutely crucial for persons to be aware so they can take action. I am also happy we were able to surpass our target of 20,000 screenings. A big thank you to our hardworking staff who went beyond the call of duty to ensure individuals are aware of their blood pressure numbers,” notes Everton Anderson, CEO of the National Health Fund.

“The screening events provided the team with the opportunity to empower individuals with knowledge about their health, enabling them to make informed decisions and take control of their well-being,” added Mr. Anderson.

The World Health Organization says hypertension is the leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease, affecting over one billion people worldwide. In Jamaica, approximately 25 percent of the population is affected by hypertension, making it a significant health concern. The condition currently has the highest number of enrolments under the NHFCard Programme, with more than 432,000 persons registered since its inception in 2003.

For Dr Marcia Johnson-Campbell, non-communicable diseases coordinator at the Western Regional Health Authority, the partnership with the NHF was an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of the risks and complications of hypertension.  “Through our collaboration with schools, hotels, BPOs, and other places, the WRHA was able to exceed the target set of 4000 blood pressure checks,” noted Dr. Johnson-Campbell. 

She added that during the screenings, several persons with elevated blood pressure, some of whom had not been previously diagnosed as being hypertensive were identified, and medical personnel had to write referrals to see their doctor for repeat tests, and further assessment.

The screening event was appreciated by persons who attended.

For Andrea, the screening gave her the opportunity to know her blood pressure, and she was able to get brochures telling her how to keep healthy. She was also happy to receive a blood glucose monitor for her diabetic mother.

Trevor described the event as a good thing. “Some men don’t want to know these thigs, but I’m glad to know my pressure so I can keep safe.”

Lillian, a senior citizen said her blood pressure reading was a bit high, so she will go to her doctor for follow up treatment.

The National Health Fund remains committed to its mandate of promoting access to quality healthcare for all Jamaicans. The blood pressure screening on World Hypertension Day is just one of the many initiatives undertaken by the organization to fulfill this mission.

The NHF strongly encourages everyone to be proactive in knowing their blood pressure and taking steps to prevent and manage hypertension. This includes maintaining a healthy diet, engaging in regular physical activity, reducing salt intake, and avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption.

WORLD HYPERTENSION DAY 2

Aretha Campbell of the Jamaica Urban Transit Company was one of many participants that received tokens at the NHF World Hypertension Screening site in Half Way Tree on Wednesday, May 17, 2023.

WORLD HYPERTENSION DAY 3

Nurse Nareeca Jackson, health promotion coordinator at the NHF screens a police officer who is one in over seventy police officers from the Half Way Tree Station who received checks on World Hypertension.

WORLD HYPERTENSION DAY 4

Anchony Brown, commuter, was eager to know his number.

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