The Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) successfully commemorated World Heart Day (WHD) 2022, Thursday last week, with the theme, ‘Use heart for every Heart’ in Honiara.
In his keynote address, Acting Permanent Secretary then and the Deputy Secretary of Health Improvement Dr. Nemia Bainivalu explained that the theme for World Heart Day “Use Heart for a Heart” is to draw attention to ensuring our hearts remain healthy.
“Use heart means to change our thinking and make right decisions for the good of our hearts. Heart is the only organ we can hear and feel. It is the first and last sign of life and one of the few things with great potential to unite all of us as people. For every heart is fitting to redirect our focus and take appropriate actions. We want the World Heart Day messages to reach all our people to achive cardiovascular heatlh for every heart”, explain Dr Nemia.
He said that with Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), the lead cause of death globally, cardiovascular or heart diseases are the most common cause of NCDs with about 17.9 million people dying annually.
“The Solomon Islands is not much different to the Pacific,“ We are in a crisis of NCDs as declared by the Pacific islands health minister meeting in Honiara in 2011”, said Dr. Bainivalu.
He revealed a study conducted in the country showed interesting findings such as cardiovascular diseases as the number one (1) leading cause of death in the Solomon Islands. “Factors causing heart diseases include irresponsible alcohol consumption, tobacco smoking, poor diet, physical inactivity, and betel nut chewing. The STEPs survey in 2015 showed these risk factors of NCDs are still increasing”,
“36.6% of the population were current smokers at the time of the study, with men more likely to smoke than women; 66.8% of the population betel nut chewers, with men more likely to chew than women. 18.3% had drunk alcohol in the last 30 days, with men being more likely to consume alcohol than women; 87.9% eat less than 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, and 46.6% of the population always added salt before eating or when eating.
Dr. Nemia said, therefore, NCDs threaten the very future of the Solomon Islands and must be decisively addressed as a development crisis in order to nurture a healthy environment that enables healthy lifestyle choices.
“The Ministry of Health is implementing the NCD Multi-sectoral National Strategic Plan 2019-2023 with the following strategic areas. Prevent NCDs, promote health and wellness for all, Improve control of NCDs through capacity building and health system strengthening and monitor, and evaluate interventions to track progress to achieve set targets”, outlined Dr Nemia.
Dr. Nemia highlighted some of the activities under these key strategic areas which include; strengthening of governance and coordination on NCD activities, Healthy Public Health Policy and Legislation, mass campaign on Cardiovascular Diseases and healthy settings with the implementation of the National Healthy Setting Policy.
“It also involves expanding the SOLPEN (Solomon Islands Package of Essential NCD interventions across the country, building health worker capacity on screening, management of NCDs at Area Health Centre and Rural Clinic levels, Improving access to medication supplies to health facilities across the country and vamping up Rheumatic heart disease in schools amongst other activities”,
“With monitoring and evaluation, the Ministry will work to strengthen the DHIS data system and maintain NCD regional surveys”, concluded Dr Nemia.