Message from Minister of Health, Environment, Youth, Sports and Culture

World Health Day is being
observed all across the world today, 7 April, 2013.  With a focus
on: High Blood
Pressure
, the Cayman Islands joins hands with other countries to promote greater awareness, healthy behaviors,
improved detection and most of all – prevention 
– of one of our biggest Public health
concerns.

High blood pressure – also known as raised blood
pressure or hypertension – increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes and kidney
failure. If left uncontrolled, high blood pressure can also cause blindness,
heartbeat irregularities and heart failure. The risk of developing these
complications is higher in the presence of other cardiovascular risk factors
such as diabetes.

According to the World Health
Organization (WHO), one in three adults worldwide has high blood pressure. The
proportion increases with age, from 10% among persons in their 20s and 30s, to
50% after the age of 50. Our Census 2010 has revealed that hypertension is one
of the top three illnesses with a prevalence of 89.1 per 1000 population
representing 11.6% of adults.   Worldwide,
raised blood pressure is estimated to cause 7.5 million deaths, which is about
12.8% of the total of all deaths. There may be many
people with undiagnosed high blood pressure, and so these people are missing
out on treatment that could significantly reduce their risk of death and
disability from heart disease and stroke.

As Minister of Health, I applaud the many preventative
measures undertaken by the Public Health Department, Health Services Authority,
Cayman Heart Fund and all Healthcare workers in the Cayman Islands. The
recently concluded STEPS survey, along with the many Information Education and
Communication outreach programmes, has helped to build awareness and
identification of those who are at risk for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes,
stroke, and kidney failure, due to raised blood pressure. A good, solid working
relationship has been established by our Cayman Islands Hospital, with the heart
Health Centre in the Cayman Islands and the St Lukes Mid America Heart Institute
in the USA for care and treatment of patients with cardiovascular diseases
beyond our current capacities. The relationship is to be commended.

The
good news is that high blood pressure is both preventable and treatable. As
responsible citizens, everyone must ensure knowledge and status of health numbers.
I urge the public to engage in physical activity, to utilize the walking track
at the football grounds behind the John Gray High School Compound, reduce salt
intake, use a balanced diet and appropriate medication to prevent or control
high blood pressure.

Through continued collaborative and concerted efforts,
it is hoped that we can meaningfully impact and reduce the incidence of these diseases. 

Therefore,
I urge you to become a part of this global initiative and let us work towards
securing healthy and longer lives for ourselves and our loved ones through
participation of our National Public Health Week April 5-12.

 Let this, and every day, be World Health Day!  Know your numbers, and if you don’t know your
numbers, get a wellness check today.

Hon. Mark Scotland, JP

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