Hypertension (or high blood pressure) rates are very high among adults in Haiti, contributing to a high prevalence of deaths from stroke, renal failure, and heart failure. The problem doesn’t only afflict older patients—we see young Haitians suffering from hypertension, too.
Although hypertension is easy to treat, it often goes undiagnosed until a serious event like a stroke occurs. Making matters worse, many Haitians lack access to basic preventative health care.
HAS is trying to address this issue with a new program that will screen people for hypertension and diabetes in our catchment area. Beginning as a 1-year pilot program, we aim to screen all persons 18 years and older for hypertension at our community health centers and mobile clinics. We will also screen persons with risk factors or with symptoms compatible with diabetes, as it is an additional cardiovascular risk factor that often goes undetected. Patients who are diagnosed with hypertension and/or diabetes will be treated at the community health centers, with complicated cases referred to the hospital.
An important piece of this program will be community education and raising awareness on hypertension and diabetes risk factors and prevention. Community health workers will provide educational sessions and distribute flyers in Creole about the availability of free screenings – speaking with people in the waiting room of the community health centers, during home visits, at churches, and at community events. We will also offer training sessions on hypertension and diabetes to our staff to improve their ability to diagnose and treat these chronic conditions. Throughout the program, we will do continuous monitoring and evaluation.
To fully implement this program, we will need to add staff at our community health centers and mobile clinics. This will increase our ability to provide quality, standardized diagnosis and care for patients with hypertension and diabetes.
Help give our hypertension screening program a strong start. With a gift today, you can help us fight chronic disease and empower patients to take control of their health.