A series of activities was launched at the Cardiac Centre, Pamplemousses on 29 September 2020 to mark the World Heart Day in Mauritius. Eminent personalities attended the event including , Dr Kailash Kumar Jagutpal, Minister of Health and Wellness, Mr Sudesh Kumar Kallichurn, Minister of Labour, Human Resource Development and Training, Dr Laurent Musango, WHO Representative in Mauritius, Dr Sunil Gunness, Cardiologist and Head of the Cardiac Centre, Dr S. Ramen, Director General Health Services, Directors of the five regional hospitals and high officials of the Ministry of Health and Wellness, among others.
Dr K. k. Jagutpal, during his speech, highlighted the increasing number of people suffering from heart diseases with the ageing of the population and the NCD epidemic faced by the country since the past decades. According to the Health Minister, "more than 3000 deaths were due to heart diseases in 2019 while 19,500 patients were admitted in the different cardiology units of the regional hospitals for cardiac treatment. In addition, 4790 angiographies and 997 cardiac surgeries were conducted".
"In Mauritius, there are many people living with type 2 diabetes, and I wish to make an appeal to the population to take action now to reduce the risk factors associated with cardiovascular diseases".
"People should adopt healthy eating habits, exercise regularly and learn to cope with stress to prevent heart diseases". He added, "practicing regular physical activity can reduce your risks of developing heart diseases".
"This year, the Ministry of Health and Wellness will conduct a new national NCD Survey and the data collected will give an indication of the situation regarding noncommunicable diseases".
The Health Minister advised the population to stay vigilant and maintain all precautionary measures to prevent from COVID-19.
Dr Sunil Gunness, Cardiologist and Head of the Cardiac Centre, during his speech, emphasized the importance of inculcating in children and young adults healthy eating habits.
"Encourage your children at a very early age to consume less fast food and more fruits and vegetables". He stressed the multiplying effect of risk factors such as unhealthy diet, obesity, lack of physical activity, smoking, alcohol and stress. "We need to reduce child obesity and prevent heart diseases", said Dr S. Gunness.
Dr S. Gunness acknowledged the efforts made by the Government of Mauritius to improve cardiac treatment and informed that the Cardiac Centre has acquired new technology equipped with artificial intelligence and this will improve the effectiveness of data collected to 97% during conduct of an electrocardiogram (ECG).
Dr Laurent Musango, WHO Representative in Mauritius, addressed the audience on this occasion and emphasized the fact that cardiovascular diseases is the number one cause of death globally. He added, "smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity and air pollution are the main causes for CVDs".
"CVD, including heart disease and stroke, is the world's leading cause of death claiming 17.9 million lives each year," said Dr L. Musango and added that "80% of premature deaths from heart disease and stroke can be avoided by controlling risk factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity."
The WHO Representative in Mauritius said, "by making just a few small changes to our lives, we can "Use Heart' to beat CVD"." Dr L. Musango expressed his appreciation for the efforts made by the Government of Mauritius to implement policies and initiatives that will lead to better societal heart health, such as sugar taxes, smoke free regulations and measure to reduce salt intake and control air pollution.
"WHO is supporting the Government of Mauritius to develop the National Service Framework for NCDs and the National NCD Integrated Action Plan in order to promote an integrated and coordinated approach to NCDs and this will contribute to reduce premature death due to NCDs in general and CVD in particular", said Dr L. Musango.
"We need to use Heart to make healthy choices such as consume more fruit and vegetable daily, avoid alcohol abuse, stop smoking as it is the single best thing one can do to improve your heart health and try to limit processed and prepackaged foods that are often high in salt, sugar and fat. We need to Use Heart to get more active and aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity 5 times a week", said Dr L. Musango
Dr L. Musango concluded by stating, "with the emergency of the new COVID-19 early this year, affecting all countries around the world and killing many people (around 1 million now), it is very important to understand that NCDs are increasing the Case Fatality Ratio (CFR)/or risk of mortality for COVID-19, for example, in Mauritius 9/10 deaths we had were associated to NCDs co-morbidities".
"People should maintain the precautionary measures such as wearing of masks, observing physical distancing and sanitary measures including regular hand washing to prevent from COVID-19", said Dr L. Musango.
Various activities comprising screening exercises, talks, and exhibitions on cardiovascular diseases and their risk factors, as well as campaigns on obesity, keep fit, prevention of tobacco use, healthy living, amongst others were held on this occasion to sensitize the population on the prevention and management of heart diseases.