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Saint Lucia, PAHO partner on cardiovascular health

By Fernelle Neptune, Ministry of Health

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(PRESS RELEASE) — The Department of Health and Wellness in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) recently launched the HEARTS initiative aimed at improving the prevention and control of cardiovascular diseases in Saint Lucia.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Merlene Fredericks-James said she is very pleased that Saint Lucia is the first OECS country to implement the HEARTS initiative which will assist with better blood pressure control among Saint Lucians.

“The HEARTS initiative will require the active participation of persons who have hypertension as well as all healthcare workers, particularly those in the primary healthcare setting such as wellness centres, district hospitals, the general practitioners within the private sector and others. The goal is to ensure that persons with hypertension achieve very good control of their blood pressure so that they avoid the complications of high blood pressure.”

Permanent Secretary in the Department of Health and Wellness, Felix St. Hill, said the initiative is extremely important as it will improve cardiovascular health in Saint Lucia.

“In embracing the HEARTS initiative, we are aware that much work needs to be done to ensure that behavioral change is paramount. The HEARTS module allows for straight forward information and simple methods which will provide clear guidance to the healthcare staff. This module undoubtedly will help tremendously with patient education, counselling, and management. We are anxious to assess the changes in behavior, body mass index, blood pressures, blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels in clients over the next few months.”

PAHO Advisor for Chronic Diseases, Patrice Lawrence-Williams, called on stakeholders, healthcare workers, policymakers and patients to play a significant part to ensure better blood pressure outcomes.

“The implementation of the HEARTS technical package is therefore very cost-effective. Our economies can no longer sustain the cost of care associated with the management of cardiovascular disease at the secondary and tertiary levels. The HEARTS package utilizes highly efficacious and accessible anti-hypertension at affordable prices designed to improve medication compliance, minimize specialist care and maximize the affordable cost of primary or preventative health care.”

The HEARTS initiative will commence in six wellness centres — the Grande Riviere, La Croix, Ciceron, Babonneau, Richfond and Belle Vue wellness centres.

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