Kenyans to get free blood pressure screening in awareness drive

Wednesday April 26 2017

A medical officer check blood pressure on a patient at Outspan Medical Hospital in Nyeri on September 10, 2012. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

A medical officer check blood pressure on a patient at Outspan Medical Hospital in Nyeri on September 10, 2012. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By LEONARD ONYANGO
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Kenyans will undergo free blood pressure screening from next week as the government rolls out a month-long campaign aimed at creating awareness about hypertension.

The campaign dubbed ‘Pima Pressure’ will run for the whole of May where Kenyans will have an opportunity to get screened at stations set up in referral hospitals, public universities and various pick-up points countrywide.

Speaking during the launch of the campaign, spearheaded by the Ministry of Health in conjunction with Kenya Cardiac Society and Healthy Heart Africa, Health Principal Secretary Julius Korir said the ministry targets at least 200,000 people to get screened during the drive.

“We want to encourage all Kenyans to regularly measure their blood pressure because awareness is the first step to better health.

“We will have free blood pressure screening and education at various locations in the country during the campaign period starting next week,” he said.

Pima Pressure is part of May Measurement Month (MMM), a worldwide screening initiative aimed at raising awareness about blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases.

WORLD HYPERTENSION DAY

He urged Kenyans to come out in large numbers and get screened for blood pressure on May 17, where Kenya will join other countries in commemoration of World Hypertension Day at Uhuru Park, Nairobi.

According to Prof Elijah Ogola, a clinical cardiologist and lecturer at University of Nairobi, majority of hypertension sufferers are not aware despite the disease being a silent killer.

“Alcohol, smoking, stress and taking foods with excessive sugar and salt are the main causes of hypertension. In the past, blood pressure was believed to be a disease for the rich but it is no longer so due to increased consumption of alcohol and unhealthy diet,” said Prof Ogola.

According to Kenya STEPwise survey for non-communicable diseases (NCD) of 2015, almost one in four Kenyans has hypertension and more than a half of Kenyans have never had their pressure measured.

Out of Kenyans who are not aware about their blood pressure status, 70 per cent are men and 30 per cent women.

The Survey also revealed that one million Kenyans consume alcohol on daily basis as 40 million eat unhealthy diet.

Recent study by The African Population and Health Research Centre (APHRC) indicated that one out of eight adults living in Nairobi’s slums have high blood pressure.