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SMARThealth Extend launched in Indonesia to tackle growing cardiovascular risk

In a major initiative to tackle the growing burden of cardiovascular risk among the Indonesian population, the SMARThealth Extend study was launched at Pendopo Kabupaten Malang in Indonesia earlier last week by Yayuk Rendra Kresna, the Chairman of the Women’s Family Welfare Program in in the presence of 300 participants including 48 health cadres, 33 nurse coordinators from 33 Kecamatan or sub-districts, 33 Heads of Puskesmas, and 4 villages head government staff.

Others present at the launch included the head of district health agency and staff, head of district government development planning agency and staff, members of local government parliament, and head of Police and Indonesia National Army at Malang district and their staff.

Before the launch ceremony, the SMARThealth team met Jajuk Sulistyowati Rendra Kresna at Pringgitan head of district government office. As the coordinator of all cadres at the district, she promised all support to the SMARThealth program. As she explained “This is a very important program because CVD is one of major causes of death in Malang…We promise to help the SMARThealth team make this program a grand success”

The launch began by playing of promotional videos of SMARThealth about heart attack, nutrition and physical activity. All participants were curious and very much interested in the videos.

Dr Muhammad Abdurrahman, head of the district health agency, who delivered the welcome speech, expressed his gratitude with selection of Malang district government for SMARThealth Extend program and he promised to make it a success. He pointed out that SMARThealth is an important program for tackling the increasing high risk of CVD at Malang. “If Malang can make it effectively work it will help not only our community but also the government as currently Indonesia is implementing universal healthcare,” he said.

He highlighted that one key factor for effective implementation of SMARThealth was the role of cadres who will connect individuals within community to nurses at Ponkesdes and doctors at Puskesmas. In doing so, the district health agency will work together with the SMARThealth program team to make it a success.

Dr Mohan PS Kohli, Program Manager for the SMARThealth Extend study, from the George Institute for Global Health, pointed out that it was a great initiative making apt use of technology in program implementation through community participation. He explained that SMARThealth technology is only as useful as the people using it and therefore the health workers are the backbone of the program and be primarily responsible for its success.

Dr Gindo Tampubolon from the University of Manchester, who is a member of the SMARThealth Extend steering committee, said the high risk of CVD in Indonesia added to the burden not only on family but also society and government. Therefore, CVD control was important for Indonesia is implementing universal health care.

Ir Bakhruddin, who represented the head of the district local government agency, explained that Indonesia is now undergoing an epidemiological transition wherein non communicable diseases like CVD are the major burden for society. Current research shows that 32% Indonesians have risk of CVD and this risk increased with age. He explained three major issues for CVD management in Indonesia -- shortage of doctors at Puskesmas, lack of awareness about CVDs, and geographical challenges. Therefore, the best way is early identification and prevention of risk similar to what SMARThealth currently does.

In his speech, Dr D Praveen, Program Head, Primary Health Care Research from the George Institute for Global Health, India explained in detail about the SMARThealth program. He explained that SMARThealth Extend is a result of partnership between organizations from many countries. It makes use of task sharing between physician and non-physician health care workers and use of technology to enable the task sharing.

He thanked all the collaborators, contributors, stakeholders global and in Indonesia and emphasized that we all will need to work together to make it a grand success.