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Homa Bay residents urged to embrace routine hypertension testing

Homa Bay Town Sub-County has the highest burden of chronic illnesses including hypertension as reflected in the number of patients’ admission at the county hospital.

Project Medical Referent, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) Dr. Emetole Earnest said that the prevalence of hypertension in Homa Bay town is relatively high with Marindi and Nyalkilnyi recording the most number of patients.

“One in every five patients admitted at the county referral hospital has complications of chronic illnesses. Areas of Marindi and Nyalkilnyi have the highest burden of hypertension,” he noted.

Dr. Emetole said that in order to understand the true burden of the disease, they conducted a survey in 2019 which revealed that over 40 percent of all admissions at the hospital during that time came from Homa Bay town Sub-County.

Also, 20 percent of mortalities recorded within the first 24 hours at that time were on account of complications of chronic diseases, he added.

“From our research, we also realised that a lot of our patients come from these two locations which pushed us to scale up our interventions by structuring chronic disease activities such as setting up clinics in these areas last year January,” he said.

The doctor was speaking during World Hypertension Day celebrations within Homa Bay town, an event which was organized by MSF in collaboration with the Ministry of Health.

He said that the key area MSF is currently focused on is community intervention because management of chronic diseases is beyond the hospital and rather lies at the community level.

The interventions include supporting consultations, diagnostic services, availing medications to patients with chronic illness and supporting community interventions towards creating more awareness and identification of patients with chronic diseases such as coming up with support groups and supporting income generating activities for the patients.

The coordinator chronic illnesses Homa Bay town Sub-County Carolyne Aloo said that the reason for the celebrations was to create awareness among the people about hypertension adding that the illness is very unique in a way that it in many occasions, it does not show any signs.

“You do not need to show any symptoms for you to know that you have hypertension. Sometimes there are no signs at all. Rather, you need to go for testing to be sure,” she said.

She urged the residents to embrace routine testing for hypertension for early detection of the illness.

Apart from hypertension, other chronic diseases that MSF is currently trying to manage include asthma, epilepsy, diabetes and active case finding for tuberculosis.

There were various activities that were undertaken during the celebrations such as testing for the chronic diseases as well as administration of covid-19 vaccine to the public.

There are predisposing factors behind hypertension both controllable and uncontrollable such as the age of a person, genetics and lifestyle including smoking, being overweight, stress, lack of exercise, alcohol among others.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health in collaboration with MSF is implementing a Simplified Continuum of Care Model at Primary and Secondary care levels for management of chronic diseases in a high HIV burden area beginning with two facilities, that is Marindi and Nyalkilnyi.

By Sitna Omar

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