Kristine Julber suffers from high blood pressure on a daily basis. This type of hypertension can cause chronic headaches, but more seriously can cause stroke, heart disease, kidney disease and visual impairments. As a mother of six, Kristine cannot afford to suffer from these serious health conditions at such a young age. Yet according to the Haiti Ministry of Health, “hypertension is the greatest cause of mortality in Haiti among adults, ahead of HIV, cholera, tuberculosis, and malaria combined.”
Kristine and her husband live in Williamson, Haiti and are very active in their local church. Her husband works as a mason in rural Williamson and they try hard to make ends meet when work is available. Kristine knows that it’s dangerous to her health to continue living with high blood pressure and has seen older family members die from stroke. Unfortunately, the hard reality in Haiti is that she cannot afford to take blood pressure medications regularly.
For Kristine to purchase hypertension medications, it would cost $30 US per month. That may not seem like much, but when an average Haitian salary is $60 US per month, it’s nearly impossible for many Haitians to afford. With your help, World Wide Village is working with other organizations such as Blessings International to provide hypertension medications at a very reasonable cost.
Now, mothers like Kristine will be able to access medications and ongoing blood pressure monitoring at the WWV medical center, helping reduce the risk of stroke, and other health conditions caused by hypertension. Medication and blood pressure monitoring may not be flashy, but it is helping save lives, and that’s something that Kristine and her family can celebrate for years to come!
Want to learn more?
The Paradox of Hypertension in Haiti from the Journal of Clinical Hypertension
“Formerly recognized as the most prosperous of the French colonies for 3 centuries (1500–1800), called then “la perle des Antilles” (the Pearl of Antilles or the Caribbean), Haiti has been referred to as an agricultural land. Haiti produces large quantities of rice as well as a variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains such as almonds, peanuts, and cashews. Many of these products are elements of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet recommended as hypertension therapy because of their high content of fiber, grains, and potassium.
In addition, Haitians typically walk long distances, an average of 10 km per day, to avoid the costs of transportation. So exercise is part of the routine lifestyle in Haiti, which, again, is in accord with lifestyle recommendations for the treatment of hypertension. Indeed, these factors may explain why Haitians have less coronary artery disease than expected.
Given this picture of daily exercise and exposure to healthy fresh produce, it would be expected that Haitians would have a lower tendency to hypertension. This is wishful thinking. The reality is that they have the highest prevalence of hypertension and stroke as pointed out by Dr Kenerson.”
There are several reasons for this paradox of hypertension. One is the inherited risk of hypertension in many Haitians – passed down by parents and grandparents who also suffered from this risk factor.
Another reason for the high rate of hypertension in Haiti is the high salt diet. According to estimates, Haitians consume roughly 30 to 35 grams of sodium daily. This is in dramatic contrast to the 4 grams recommended by World Health Organization. For example, one serving of a bouillon cube, a staple of many Haitian cuisines, contains 2400 mg of sodium. On average, a household will use 10 servings per day, or 24 grams. Add to this other items rich in sodium such as tomato paste, rock salt, and butter and it is easy to reach 30-35 grams.
World Wide Village will continue to education patients on the dangers of high salt diets and how to cut out sodium in their daily meals. In a country where there is such food insecurity, cutting out salt can be very difficult.