One of the major initiatives that will be undertaken by Saint Kitts and Nevis’ Ministry of Health within the coming months is the implementation of the HEARTS Initiative.
Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Sharon Archibald; District Medical Officer, Dr. Kalieahh Cannonier; Director of Health Promotion Unit, Dr. Marisa Carty; and In-Country Representative for the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Ms. Aneke Wilson attended the HEARTS in the Americas Initiative workshop in St. Lucia from May 15 to 19, 2023.
The workshop was entitled ‘Improving CVD Clinical Management and NCD Surveillance in the Context of COVID-19 through HEARTS Implementation: Lessons Learned and Plan for Scale Up’.
Ministry of Health officials and health managers from across the region were provided with a robust agenda. The objective of the workshop was to improve knowledge and demonstrate cardiovascular risk management; best practices shared for improved implementation in the Caribbean; an application plan for the hypertension control drivers; and a NCD monitoring framework developed to suit each country’s situation.
“Coming out of this workshop we will be able to implement standardized treatment protocols to guide the early detection and treatment of cardiovascular diseases. The rollout of the online and in-country training sessions on the clinical pathway, will be spearheaded by Dr. Cannonier,” Dr. Sharon Archibald stated.
During the recently held Press Conference on May 18, 2023, Prime Minister and Minister of Health, the Honorable Dr. Terrance Drew, highlighted several upcoming developments within the Ministry of Health.
“We are working on securing validated blood pressure kits, EKG machines, and I just want to mention that I have also made a request that we have an on-island cardiologist who will be placed at the hospital to take care of heart attacks and other acute and non-acute heart issues,” Hon. Dr. Drew stated.
“Presently we do not have that service at the hospital, and we need it most urgently. We’ll also be procuring an echocardiogram – that is ultrasound of the heart. We are seeking to have Holter monitors to monitor the rhythms of the heart, and I’m saying all of this so that people can know as we build out health care, it is really to save lives,” he added.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States (CDC) and the effort Resolve to Save Lives, among other worldwide actors, are part of the worldwide HEARTS Initiative, which is being led by the World Health Organization.
HEARTS in the Americas is a regional effort spearheaded by national health ministries with support from regional stakeholders and technical assistance from PAHO.
The Initiative aims to gradually and seamlessly integrate into currently offered health delivery services to encourage the adoption of international best practices in the prevention and control of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and boost service performance through improved blood pressure management and the promotion of secondary prevention with a focus on primary healthcare.
According to PAHO, by 2025, the HEARTS model will be the standard for cardiovascular disease risk management in primary healthcare across the Americas, including hypertension, diabetes, and dyslipidaemia.
HEARTS is currently being implemented and expanded in 31 nations in the Americas, seventeen (17) of which countries are Caribbean nations; Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands (BVI), Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos Islands.