The Department of Health Western Visayas, through the support of the World Health Organization, will be expanding the Healthy Hearts Program to 16 additional sites in the province of Iloilo.
WHO Representative to the Philippines Dr. Rui Paulo de Jesus, DOH VI Regional Director Dr. Adriano P. Suba-an, and Gov. Arthur Defensor Jr. led the launching of the Healthy Hearts Program Phase III on June 21, 2023 at Casa Real de Iloilo.
The program was piloted in 2021 in the first district of Iloilo, benefiting 25,000 adults, of which 80 percent of them exhibited controlled blood pressure.
For the third phase, the program will expand to the municipalities of Ajuy, Alimodian, Anilao, Badiangan, Banate, Batad, Carles, Concepcion, Dueñas, Janiuay, Lambunao, Lemery, Mina, New Lucena, San Enrique, and Zarraga.
Dr. Suba-an said the expansion is aimed at improving the service detection and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), particularly cardiovascular diseases, and continuous assessment of their risk factors in the community.
Dr. Subaan said the province of Iloilo “opened a window of opportunities” for other LGUs to learn about the management of NCDs.
The Healthy Hearts Program is designed to improve cardiovascular health and reduce mortality caused by NCDs such as heart diseases, cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases, among others.
It includes capacitating the barangay health workers as well as educating the community to have a healthier lifestyle.
The BHWs were trained to do simple blood pressure tests.
Dr. De Jesus, during the press conference, lauded Gov. Arthur Defensor Jr. for his seriousness in addressing the issue of NCDs.
“Almost all of the NCDs are preventable. That is the bottom line why we launch this program,” De Jesus said.
Governor Defensor said the provincial government will make the management of NCDs a “mainstream program” of the province.
He said NCDs are among the most serious health problems but they do not get enough attention compared to other diseases.
Based on the data of the Provincial Health Office, seven out of the top 10 leading causes of mortality in the province of Iloilo are non-communicable diseases. These are myocardial infarction, cancer, diabetes mellitus, kidney diseases, coronary artery diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, and congestive heart failure.
“We want to give it more attention every day. That should be part of the daily grind of the Provincial Health Office and the hospitals,” Defensor said.
The governor added that he is happy to work with the WHO which is a longtime partner of the provincial government.
To recall, the province of Iloilo was chosen to host the first World Heart Day 2022 celebration in the country last Sept. 29, 2022, following its successful implementation of the Healthy Hearts Program.
“I am looking forward to a better and stronger partnership with the WHO in this area of health,” he said.