On World Heart Day, AstraZeneca and its dedicated partners commemorated nine years of remarkable achievements in the ongoing battle against hypertension, which has significantly contributed to reducing the burden of cardiovascular diseases [CVDs] and non-communicable diseases [NCDs] across Africa. This milestone is a testament to the effectiveness of the Healthy Heart Africa [HHA] programme, initiated in 2014.
Since its inception, the HHA programme has made substantial strides in transforming healthcare in Africa. With unwavering commitment, it has conducted over 38.5 million blood pressure screenings, diagnosing over 3.1 million individuals, and training more than 10,600 healthcare workers, including doctors, nurses, community health volunteers, and pharmacists. Furthermore, it has activated over 1,300 healthcare facilities to provide essential hypertension services.
To commemorate the nine-year journey of the HHA programme, AstraZeneca and its partners will host a webinar to reflect on their accomplishments and lay out future strategies to address the growing challenges posed by CVDs and NCDs across Africa. The discussions will revolve around the pivotal role of public-private partnerships in bolstering primary healthcare systems, drawing from the invaluable lessons learned through the HHA programme.
The distinguished panel of speakers will include representatives from Ministries of Health in implementing countries and esteemed programme partners such as PATH, Population Services International [PSI], Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops [KCCB], African Christian Health Associations Platform [ACHAP], and Uganda Protestant Medical Bureau [UPMB].
Dr. Yvette Kisaka, Programs Lead, Division of NCD Prevention and Control, Ministry of Health Kenya, emphasized the importance of strengthening health systems to achieve Universal Health Coverage. She praised the HHA programme for its crucial role in the fight against cardiovascular diseases in Kenya and reaffirmed their commitment to collaborating with all stakeholders to ensure a healthier future for their citizens.
Healthy Heart Africa remains steadfast in its commitment to addressing hypertension and the escalating burden of CVDs and NCDs in Africa. The programme is well on its way to achieving its ambitious goal of reaching 10 million individuals with elevated blood pressure by 2025, having already recorded 7.7 million readings.
HHA is dedicated to enhancing the resilience of local health systems by tackling barriers to access to care, raising awareness of hypertension’s symptoms and risks, promoting healthy lifestyle choices, training healthcare providers, and facilitating screening, access to treatment, and disease management.
In less than a decade, HHA has successfully implemented and expanded its multi-stakeholder model to deliver improved and more equitable health outcomes across the continent. Starting in Kenya in 2014 and subsequently expanding to Ethiopia, Tanzania, Ghana, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Rwanda, Nigeria, and Zanzibar, HHA’s approach to addressing hypertension thrives when integrated into existing health systems, working in partnership at the local level.
Qutaiba Al Manaseer, Senior Director of Corporate Affairs for the Middle East & Africa Region at AstraZeneca, highlighted the power of public-private partnerships in delivering sustainable solutions that strengthen the resilience of local health systems. He emphasized their ongoing commitment to collaborating with stakeholders to combat hypertension and improve patient outcomes.
According to the World Health Organization, hypertension affects 1 in 3 adults worldwide, and Africa faces the highest prevalence of hypertension in any region. It is projected that the number of adults suffering from high blood pressure in sub-Saharan Africa will reach 216.8 million by 2030. In 2019, sub-Saharan Africa witnessed over 1 million deaths due to cardiovascular diseases, constituting 5.4 per cent of all global CVD-related deaths and 13 per cent of all deaths in Africa.