Over 20,000 Jamaicans gained awareness of their blood pressure readings through a successful screening blitz organized by the National Health Fund (NHF) on World Hypertension Day. The NHF, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the Medical Association of Jamaica, NGOs, private sector entities, and churches, conducted blood pressure screenings at over 165 locations across the island.
The screening initiative, undertaken as part of the NHF’s 20th anniversary celebrations, aimed to promote awareness about high blood pressure, a condition often unnoticed due to its lack of symptoms but associated with severe health issues such as heart attacks, strokes, and kidney disease.
Kingston emerged as the top parish with 5,031 screenings, followed by Westmoreland (2,844), St. James (2,399), Manchester (2,004), and St. Ann (1,823). The screenings also revealed that for every two women screened, one man participated.
Two main screening locations, Sam Sharpe Square in Montego Bay and the Half Way Tree Transport Centre in St. Andrew, were buzzing with activity as thousands of individuals turned out to get screened. At the Half Way Tree Transport Centre, the Ministry of Health and Wellness provided additional services such as body mass index (BMI) readings and cardio recovery tests.
Attendees also had the opportunity to win prizes sponsored by GraceKennedy, LASCO Distributors, and Massy Distribution Limited. LASCO provided blood glucose monitoring machines, along with NHF-branded water bottles, stress balls, and pens.
During the screenings, medical personnel offered valuable information on preventive measures and management strategies for hypertension, empowering individuals to take control of their health. Everton Anderson, CEO of the National Health Fund, expressed satisfaction with the turnout and stressed the importance of individuals knowing their blood pressure readings.
He extended gratitude to the dedicated staff who surpassed the target of 20,000 screenings and highlighted the opportunity to raise awareness and empower individuals with knowledge about their health.
Hypertension, according to the World Health Organization, is the leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease and affects over one billion people worldwide. In Jamaica, approximately 25 percent of the population suffers from hypertension, making it a significant health concern. It is also the condition with the highest number of enrolments under the NHFCard Programme, with over 432,000 individuals registered since its inception in 2003.
Dr. Marcia Johnson-Campbell, the non-communicable diseases coordinator at the Western Regional Health Authority, expressed satisfaction with the partnership between the NHF and her organization, emphasizing the importance of raising awareness about the risks and complications of hypertension.
Through collaborations with schools, hotels, business process outsourcing (BPO) companies, and other institutions, the Western Regional Health Authority exceeded its target of 4,000 blood pressure checks during the screenings. Medical personnel identified several individuals with elevated blood pressure, including some who were previously undiagnosed, and provided referrals for further assessment and repeat tests.
Attendees at the screening event shared their appreciation for the opportunity to learn about their blood pressure readings and received informative brochures on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Andrea, one attendee, was particularly glad to receive a blood glucose monitor for her diabetic mother. Trevor acknowledged the event as a positive experience, emphasizing the importance of knowing one’s blood pressure to stay safe. Lillian, a senior citizen, found her blood pressure reading slightly high and planned to follow up with her doctor for treatment.