Chile: where action on hypertension is saving lives
25 August 2021 - In Chile, more people die from cardiovascular disease than from any other cause. More than a quarter of all deaths every year ̶ around 30 000 in total ̶ are due to the disease. Around one in four men and one in five women live with hypertension in Chile ̶ equivalent to more than four million people. Fortunately, rates of hypertension have been steadily declining during the past years.
This decline is the result of sustained action on noncommunicable diseases over a period of several decades in Chile. Hypertension was the focus of the country’s first chronic disease programme run in primary health centres across the country and, since the mid-1980s, the country has been working hard to improve the rates of detection and control.
Since the turn of this century, Chile has conducted three national health surveys that collect population data on hypertension. Data has been collected on awareness, prevalence, treatment coverage and types of medication, as well as levels of hypertension control. A recent analysis of these surveys found that hypertension rates have fallen steadily since the first survey. Following the creation of national targets, levels of controlled hypertension more than doubled.
More recently, hypertension has been included within Chile’s universal health coverage plan known as “AUGE”(Universal Access with Explicit Guarantees). This plan gives formal guarantees to people living with hypertension on access to quality care as well as protection from financial difficulties as a result of health-care costs.
In 2013, the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), with support from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, worked with the Ministry of Health of Chile to implement an innovative treatment project in two hypertension clinics. This project used an algorithm to treat hypertension which made medicines both more available and affordable; implemented clinical registries to monitor patients with hypertension; and promoted “task -sharing” ̶- the process through which local health workers provided services that would otherwise only be available in specialist clinics. This initiative led to improved hypertension management at the primary health care level.
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