World Health Day focus on high blood pressure, 2013

The topic for World Health Day 2013 (7 April 2013) is ‘High Blood Pressure’ - its ultimate goal is to reduce heart attacks and strokes.

In 1948, the First World Health Assembly called for the creation of a ‘World Health Day’ to mark the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO). Since 1950, it has been celebrated on 7 April each year, with a different annual theme that highlights a priority area of concern. It is an important global opportunity to highlight major public health issues, and it can act as a springboard for longer-term advocacy programmes.

In 2013, the Day’s objectives include raising awareness of risk factors, prevention strategies and self-care, and to make blood pressure monitoring affordable to all. National and local authorities are also encouraged to provide suitable environments for healthy behaviours.

High blood pressure, also known as raised blood pressure or hypertension, increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure. It can cause blindness, heartbeat irregularities and heart failure if it is not properly controlled. Worldwide, one in three adults suffers from this condition. This proportion increases with age, from one in 10 people in their 20s and 30s, to five in 10 people in their 50s.

It is highest in some low-income countries in Africa (over 40 per cent of adults in many African countries are thought to suffer with it). High blood pressure can be prevented and treated with simple measures such as reducing salt intake; eating a healthy diet; avoiding abuse of alcohol; taking regular exercise; keeping weight under control; and avoiding tobacco use.

FIGO President, Professor Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, said:


‘As the global body representing gynecological and obstetrical societies from 125 countries/territories, FIGO has a vision of women of the world achieving the highest possible standards of physical, mental, reproductive and sexual health and well-being throughout their lives.


‘On World Health Day, we welcome the focus on the perils of high blood pressure, and, in our role as an advocate for women’s health, encourage every woman to take seriously the prevention strategies suggested.


‘FIGO also believes that women should have access to facilities to have their blood pressure screened wherever they live.’


He added: ‘High blood pressure presents particular challenges when it occurs during pregnancy and childbirth. The condition can be a common problem at this time, and women should always be carefully monitored by a doctor or midwife to ensure that they are receiving the best possible advice and treatment.’

In September 2011, the UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki moon launched an attack on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) - ie cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic lung diseases and diabetes - and the UN General Assembly adopted by consensus the resolution titled: ‘Political Declaration of the High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases’. The aim is for governments, industry and civil society to set up the plans needed to reduce the risks by 2013.


Professor Arulkumaran ended:


‘As the Secretary-General indicated in 2011, NCDs - including hypertension - continue to be major burdens to global healthcare infrastructures and their workers: they account for over 63 per cent of deaths in the world today, and kill nine million people under 60 each year. These are sobering statistics. Alongside the efforts of other global organisations, FIGO’s member societies help advocate for women in their respective countries, to ensure that they get the support and information they need about maintaining their general wellbeing.’




Please click here to view and download the statement as a PDF.

Other useful links for World Health Day 2013:

La Leche League International (LLLI) and WABA’s Joint Statement