World Heart Day, 29 September

28 September, 2021

Dear HIFA colleagues,

On 29 September HIFA celebrates World Heart Day.

The theme for this year is especially relevant: 'Harnessing the power of digital health to improve awareness, prevention and management of CVD globally'.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is accountable for nearly half of all NCD deaths making it the world’s number one killer. And yet millions worldwide lack access to the reliable healthcare information they need to avoid harmful life choices. This year's World Health Day 'aims to drive action to educate people that by controlling risk factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity, at least 80% of premature deaths from heart disease and stroke could be avoided.

'USE HEART TO CONNECT is about using your knowledge, compassion and influence to make sure you, your loved ones and the communities you’re part of have the best chance to live heart-healthy lives. It’s about connecting with our own hearts, making sure we’re fuelling and nurturing them as best we can, and using the power of digital to connect every heart, everywhere.'

'Disconnected hearts are at greater risk of heart disease and stroke due to lack of access to CVD prevention, treatment and control – yet half the world’s population doesn’t have access to internet connectivity.' [and, importantly, the other half are especially vulnerable to health misinformation].

I would like to challenge HIFA members to identify examples where a lack of access to reliable healthcare information contributes to avoidable death and suferring. For example, many of us take for granted that smoking causes heart disease, and yet how many people are smoking today who are completely unaware of this or the many other diseases linked to smoking? To what extent do frontline health workers have the knowledge and skills they need to consistently prevent and correctly manage cardiovascular disease? How can we do better to ensure every person has access to the reliable healthcare inforamtion they need?

Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA Coordinator,