RMRC to check high blood pressure in tribals
With rising incidence of hypertension in the tribals turning the notions of their healthy, activity-filled and risk-free lifestyle on the head, an ambitious project is soon to be launched by the Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC) to study the phenomenon in Kalahandi district.
The ICMR wing, in association with the Kalahandi district administration, is also set to implement a hypertension management and prevention project over a two-year period in identified pockets. The move comes in the wake of a recent study by National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau of National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Hyderabad, revealing astonishingly high prevalence of hypertension among tribal population in 10 States. The study showed the problem to be more acute in Odisha.
Incidence of hypertension among tribals of Odisha was found to be higher than those of Kerala, Gujarat and Maharashtra with more than 50 per cent suffering from high blood pressure. Hypertension has a peculiar pattern among tribals of the State as it started from early adulthood __ from the age of 25 and peaked at 36, the study revealed.
Since hypertension is triggered by stress attributed to modernisation and urbanisation causing obesity and sedentary lifestyle, tribals are traditionally believed to remain unaffected as they stay away from the rapid social changes. This is why the study results have come as a surprise to experts who believe that growing industrialisation and modernisation may have begun to have an impact on them too.
With tribals being increasingly exposed to communicable and non-communicable diseases, the RMRC project on prevention and management will concentrate on interventions through increasing IEC activities among the vulnerable groups.
Focus will be on dietary changes (such as avoiding excess use of salt), lifestyle intervention such as exercises and involvement in sports to reduce blood pressure. “The project will be community-mediated with help from ASHAs and health workers. The focus groups will be taught how to recognise early symptoms of high blood pressure so that they can go and seek doctors’ advice. Early detection of rise in blood pressure at the village level will be introduced so that those affected can be treated at the PHCs,” Director, RMRC, Dr S K Kar, said.
The project will be implemented in villages with dominant tribal population and later compared with those which are not covered under it to understand its effectiveness.
“The effectiveness of the strategy will be studied and recommendation given to national as well as State health departments for inclusion in their tribal health programmes. This will be a novel approach to control the risk of hypertension,” Kar added.