2 Nov 2009 05:44

Grassroots medical institutions key in treating hypertension - experts

By Yu Chenxi

Shanghai. October 30. INTERFAX-CHINA - Grassroots medical institutions should continue to focus on treating hypertension, experts from the Chinese Hypertension League (CHL) said at the 11th International Symposium on Hypertension and Related Diseases in Beijing on Oct. 29 and Oct. 30.

In 2005, the Ministry of Health (MoH) began a trial of the standardized treatment of hypertension in selected urban grassroots medical institutions, including community health centers (CHC) and community health clinics in Zhejiang, Gansu and Heilongjiang provinces. Since 2007, the program has been implemented in 1,800 urban grassroots medical institutions in 22 provinces across China, with more than 300,000 hypertension patients participating.

"The program has helped improve hypertension control rates, which measure the success of treating hypertension symptoms and preventing complications, from between 20 percent and 30 percent to between 60 percent and 70 percent among hypertension patients who received standardized treatment for a one year period," said Chen Weiwei, a researcher from the MoH's National Center for Cardiovascular Diseases.

"Zhejiang Province has done exceptionally well in managing hypertension treatment at the grassroots level with hypertension control rates hitting 80 percent, which is equivalent to those of developed countries in Europe. Hypertension treatment efforts in Jiangsu Province and Shanghai Municipality are also equally commendable," CHL's executive director Wu Zhaosu told Interfax on Oct. 30.

"As part of the health care reform, grassroots medical institutions in the urban areas are now required to implement standardized treatment of hypertension and diabetes, yet most residents are still not aware that they can seek treatment for such chronic diseases in urban grassroots medical institutions," Wang Wen, CHL's general secretary, said.

"At present, the major challenge of implementing standardized hypertension treatment at the grassroots level nationwide is that patients lack the incentive and direction to seek treatment at grassroots medical institutions," Wang told Interfax.

"Additionally, most general practitioners working in grassroots medical institutions, especially in the rural areas, are not skilled in treating hypertension and need to be better trained in this regard," Yao Chonghua, director of Beijing Institute of Heart, Lung and Blood Vessel Diseases, said at the conference on Oct. 30.

According to Wang, about 600 doctors from grassroots medical institutions are expected to receive training on hypertension treatment during the four-day symposium. CHL statistics show China has around 10 million new hypertension patients each year in recent years. As of the end of 2008, there were a total of 200 million hypertension patients in China.