A recent health report has recommended five steps to tackle the menace of cardiovascular diseases(CVD) and related deaths.
“They are regulatory innovation; workforce innovation; digital patient-centred technologies; public health intelligence; and behavioural economics. They are complementary and often not expensive,” suggests the research report. 'Tackling the Global Burden of Cardiovascular Disease,' released by World Innovation Summit for Health ( WISH) at its 2016 global conference in Doha, said: “These are at least five levers that systems can use to extend prevention of the disease to remote places, underserved segments of society and future generations."
The research report points out that hypertension diagnosis and treatment, tobacco control and secondary prevention (treatment to reduce and delay the risk of disease progression and onset of complications in people with established disease) are the major steps to combat CVD.
According to the report prepared by Prof. K. Srinath Reddy, chair of the Cardiovascular Disease Forum and Research, WISH 2016 and his team, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide, resulting in 17.5 mn deaths each year.
Regulatory innovations suggest that governments and policymakers can most directly change the trajectory of mortality from CVD through regulatory policy leading to considerable impact on prevention, particularly in tobacco control.
It says: “Enacting and implementing regulations that reduce the availability and affordability of tobacco products has also been significantly helped by public education efforts that have increased public acceptance and support for these measures.”
Workforce innovation refers to innovating the healthcare workforce, for example, by expanding the role of nurses and community health workers and providing appropriate levels of training which can allow health systems to reach target populations cost-effectively. Digital technologies offer a scalable and cost-effective route to increase public awareness and change perceptions about coronary heart disease prevention.
Public health intelligence is another suggestion by WISH report. It states that continuous improvement in healthcare requires effective performance management, monitoring and follow-up at the system and population levels. This function is weak or absent in many health systems.
Behavioural economics is another factor and the policymakers need to consider the wider factors that contribute to an individual’s behaviour when they design and implement schemes to prevent and reduce CVD. Behavioural economic theory can be used to understand an individual’s behaviour better and take more account of their choice.
According to the report, most of the cardiovascular deaths are from heart attacks and strokes and many are premature. It has forecast that even with outstanding progress in CVD awareness, prevention and treatment, three out of every 10 deaths this year will still be the result of CVD.
The report points out that the World Heart Foundation aims to reduce cardiovascular mortality by 25% by 2025. “This can be achieved by reducing prevalence of hypertension by 25%, reducing daily tobacco use by 30% and providing more than 50% of eligible population with secondary prevention." Although no country has yet achieved this goal, case studies of programmes in Brazil, South Africa, India, the United Kingdom and Bhutan provide evidence of how innovative approaches are delivering results,” the report says.
“Aggressive anti-smoking regulations can raise revenue and the application of behavioural economic theory has the potential to make these programmes vastly more effective. Community health workers can go where the need is greatest, delivering digital interventions to hot spots identified in accessible data sets. Policymakers can use these new tools alongside their established policies and programmes to redouble their commitment to improving CVD mortality,” argues the report.
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