SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2016

Sebelius and Daulaire issue statement on World Health Day

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs Nils Daulaire issued a statement on Friday related to the 65th anniversary of the World Health Organization.

World Health Day, which occurred on Sunday, commemorated the founding of the WHO. The theme of this year's World Health Day was high blood pressure, a major public health issue both domestically and globally. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a major risk factor for stroke and heart disease and it is a significant cause of disability and death worldwide.

Hypertension affects more than one in three adults around the world and contributes to more than nine million deaths annually.

Sebelius and Daulaire detailed two initiatives that are meant to help people control high blood pressure.

"One of our major initiatives at the (HHS) is Million Hearts, a public-private effort with 65 partners to date, aimed at preventing 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017," Sebelius and Daulaire said. "A number of organizations including health care providers, insurers and public health agencies are signing on to help people improve controlling their high blood pressure. And throughout the world, one way we are actively working to reduce the global burden of high blood pressure is through the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases, of which HHS is a founding member. In 2012, GACD launched its first initiative to address high blood pressure in low- and middle-income countries. This important initiative is helping address the growing global epidemic of chronic noncommunicable diseases, affecting not only individuals, but entire populations."

Sebelius and Daulaire said that focusing on controlling high blood pressure contributes to significant improvements in health. Hypertension can be controlled with medication, healthy lifestyle changes, achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight, participating in regular physical activity and eating a heart-healthy diet low in sodium.

"World Health Day 2013 provides the opportunity to raise world awareness of the causes and consequences of high blood pressure, to encourage adults to check their pressure, and to make blood pressure measurement accessible and affordable to all," Sebelius and Daulaire said. "These actions can help reduce global treatment costs for related illnesses while helping individuals benefit from healthier, longer lives."