6 July 2022
Doctors and public health experts consider uncontrolled and untreated hypertension as a public health crisis, the scale of which we are yet to fully comprehend. A pilot, developed and tested in Punjab to support and strengthen the last mile delivery of primary health care with a focus on hypertension care, is all set to be replicated in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan.
The Government of Punjab has partnered with Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) and other civil society organizations to strengthen hypertension treatment at primary health facilities in the state.
Dr Areet Kaur, Director, National Health Mission, Govt of Punjab termed this collaboration as a “perfect example of how multi sectoral support and global learnings can inform and solve the challenges of the last mile. Despite being a state with the highest prevalence of hypertension in the country, Punjab has always been committed to making treatment available to all. We worked on various elements such as public awareness, drug logistics and availability, telemedicine and strengthening of the primary health care system overall.”
During the project period, the number of Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs) in Punjab grew more than fourfold from October 2019 to March 2022, reaching a total of 2,800 centers. In addition, over 2,600 community health officers and district program managers were trained to provide care. Punjab became the first state in the country to adopt a drug logistics model for the HWCs, an accomplishment that was announced by the state’s health minister. A dedicated van made medicine deliveries to each HWC as needed, reducing the lag time for drug deliveries from more than 30 days to less than 7 days. Budget advocacy for better funding of treatment services resulted in an increase of Punjab’s budget for hypertension control.
According to Ms Vandana Shah, Regional Director, Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI), Punjab which has a hypertension prevalence rate of 35.7 per cent, much higher than the national average of 25.3 per cent, provided a perfect testing bed for last mile innovations.
Civil society is partnering robustly in the national campaign to prioritize hypertension. Mr Ashim Sanyal, CEO, Consumer VOICE said, “We are partnering with GHAI to support the replication of their experience in Punjab in four other states in keeping hypertension prioritized as a national health crisis. Well-designed interventions show results. For instance, as per a recent study conducted in four states, India Hypertension Control Initiative (IHCI), a multi stakeholder initiative led by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW), World Health Organization, India (WHO), the Indian Council of Research (ICMR) and Resolve to Save Lives (RTSL), as the technical partner, has been successful in improving blood pressure control rates in the country.”