By Carlena Knight
Residents will now have an easier avenue to get their blood pressure checked, as the first ever Blood Pressure Measurement kiosk was installed yesterday at the Perry Bay Supermarket.
The kiosk was implemented under the Hearts in the Americas initiative in partnership with the local Wellness Committee under the Ministry of Health Wellness and the Environment in the aim of improving the prevention and control of cardiovascular diseases.
In fact, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Country Program Specialist Dr Gemma Chery shared that it is her hope that the new machine will help to foster more accurate blood pressure testing and promote better management of hypertension in the country.
“While most adults with hypertension take anti-hypertensive medication, many are unaware that they have high blood pressure. This new blood pressure kiosk allows community members and citizenry of Antigua and Barbuda to check their blood pressure regularly, to know their numbers, keep them at the top of their mind and receive health information to live healthier lives.
“It is our hope that having easy affordable access to get you blood pressure checked promotes more individuals to monitor their blood pressure regularly and to start to take control of it,” she said.
The implementation of the kiosk could not come at a better time, as the world celebrated World Hypertension Day yesterday under the theme ‘Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, Live Longer’.
Hypertension or raised blood pressure is the leading risk factor for cardiovascular diseases worldwide and according to Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the non-Latin Caribbean has the highest mortality rate in the Americas due to cardiovascular disease accounting for 418 per 100,000 population.
In fact, CARPHA Executive Director, Dr Joy St. John mentioned in another article that “it is a cause for concern and action when in all Caribbean countries, hypertension is above the regional average for the Americas”.
Dr Chery added that the bare fact that anti-hypertensive medication is the top ranked subscription at the Medical Benefits Scheme (MBS) proves that this issue is one that needs to be addressed locally.
It is for those reasons why Dr Chery is calling on all Antiguans and Barbudans to “know their numbers”.
“Today, we would like to issue a call to Antiguans and Barbudans to know your number, get your blood pressure checked, get your blood pressure checked, get your weight checked, get your cholesterol checked,” she admonished.
Echoing her sentiments was the Minister of Health Wellness and the Environment Sir Molwyn Joseph.
He says that the based on the current statistics surrounding this Non-Communicable Disease, the time has come to take the fight right into the communities.
The addition of this kiosk, Joseph mentioned will help to make it easier for persons to get checked.
“This is why, we are coming to the community. We could say visit the clinics, visit the out-patient clinics at the hospital, visit the community clinic but we need more than that. We need to take this message directly to the community as we are doing here today with the support of the Elite Group of Companies and PAHO,” Joseph added.
It is his hope that the kiosk will also help to influence shoppers to purchase healthier items as well as prevention of these diseases starts with nutrition.
Joseph mentioned that not only will his ministry be adding an information kiosk to go alongside the machines but they are also making efforts to put a reliable and effective follow up service so that persons who use the machine and need additional help can do so.
This machine will be the first of many to be installed within various communities.
Joseph thanked the Elite Group of Companies in which the Perry Bay Supermarket falls under, his staff at the Ministry of Health, PAHO and all the other persons and groups involved in ensuring this program became a reality.