Hungary celebrates World Health Day

National Public Health and Medical Officer’s Service, Hungary

Dr Zsofia Pusztai, Head of the WHO Country Office, speaks to journalists flanked by (from right) Dr Istvan Kiss, President of HHA , Dr Eva Martos, Director of NIFNS, Dr Zoltan Voko, Director of NIHD , and Mr Andras Tengelits, spokesperson of the National Public Health and Medical Officer’s Service

Hungary celebrated the World Health Day, which this year focuses on high blood pressure, also known as raised blood pressure or hypertension.

At a press conference held on 9 April in Budapest, the importance of the regular screening and monitoring of blood pressure was highlighted. High blood pressure increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure and if left uncontrolled, high blood pressure can also cause blindness, irregular heartbeat and heart failure. Reducing salt intake is one of the ways high blood pressure can be prevented. In Hungary, 2.5 million people suffer from high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Mortality and morbidity in the country is among the highest in the Region.

The national dietary survey of 2009 found that the salt intake in men was 17.5 g per day, in women 12.1 g per day and in kindergarten children 6.9 g per day. Among all three population groups, the intake was 3 times higher than the maximum intake level recommended by WHO.

National salt reduction campaign

Hungary launched a salt reduction campaign in 2008 in order to reduce salt intake among its population to the recommended level. A mobile truck is travelling around the country since 2010 to raise awareness about salt intake and its relation to high blood pressure.

On the occasion of World Health Day, 300 medical students at the Semmelweis Medical University received special training in the mobile truck that also can screen people for high blood pressure. The truck is expected to offer screening services at 125 locations every year until 2020.  Journalists could also check their blood pressure on site.

The press conference was jointly organized by the WHO Country Office in Hungary, the National Public Health and Medical Officer’s Service, the National Institute for Health Development (NIHD), the National Institute for Food and Nutrition Sciences (NIFNS), and the Hungarian Hypertension Association (HHA). Dr Zsofia Pusztai, Head of the WHO Country Office, Dr Zoltan Voko, Director of NIHD, Dr Eva Martos, Director of NIFNS, and Dr Istvan Kiss, President of HHA, spoke to journalists.

Members of the Healthy Cities network also held several events locally in their cities on the occasion of World Health Day.