On May 17th, the AstraZeneca Healthy Heart Africa (HHA) programme celebrated its second anniversary in collaboration with the Ugandan Ministry of Health and the Uganda Protestant Medical Bureau (UPMB).
Since the program’s inception in May 2020, 3.9 million blood pressure screenings have been conducted, and this will continue until the end of March 2022. The goal of the effort is to assist in preventing and controlling cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the country by recognising high blood pressure early on.
The partners advised Ugandans to continuously monitor their blood pressure for early diagnosis as part of this year’s global theme of “Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, Live Longer.”
Hypertension is one of the most hazardous medical disorders, as it can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure if left untreated. It is the top cause of death worldwide.
According to a 2014 nationwide STEPwise survey, hypertension affects 24.4 percent of Ugandans. It was discovered that 70% had never had their blood pressure checked, and 76.1 percent of those who were determined to have high blood pressure did not know enough about it to seek treatment.
Because hypertension is a silent killer with no symptoms, it can be avoided by regularly exercising, eating more fruits and vegetables, avoiding cigarettes, abstaining from excessive alcohol use, and limiting foods high in saturated fats.
“World Hypertension Day is a wonderful occasion to educate people that high blood pressure can progress to more catastrophic conditions like stroke if not treated early enough,” said Uganda’s Assistant Commissioner for Noncommunicable Diseases, Dr. Gerald Mutungi.
A public-private partnership with the Healthy Heart Africa programme has enabled the provision of screening services at the basic healthcare level. Individual blood pressure readings were made available as a result. We’ve prioritized treatments for disorders like hypertension and other non-communicable diseases to develop strong health systems and aid in the recovery process following a pandemic. “
As of 2014, HHA served health systems in eight countries.
There are plans to expand the programme to Nigeria soon. Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Ghana, Senegal, and Rwanda are currently among the countries that offer the service. HHA helps Ugandans achieve their long-term goals of lowering NCDs and diagnosing and treating hypertension early by increasing community awareness and education, training healthcare personnel, and providing basic equipment. HHA in Uganda checks for respiratory disorders such as COPD and asthma, in addition to hypertension.
“We are happy to recognise HHA’s two-year milestone in Uganda with a global call to action for early identification and treatment of high blood pressure,” said Allan Mackenzie, Associate Director of Global Sustainability-Access to Healthcare. We have discovered over 1.1 million elevated blood pressure measurements and over 980,000 validated hypertension diagnosis thanks to our work with the Ministry of Health and the Uganda Protestant Medical Bureau. They represent people who were able to control their hypertension early on, as well as others who were identified with the disease and began therapy before it had a negative influence on their life.
Dr Tonny Tumwesigye, Executive Director of the Uganda Protestant Medical Bureau, provided the following assessment of the findings: “By integrating existing healthcare organizations, we have expanded our reach and helped in the prevention and control of NCDs in Uganda.” Because of our significant community-level presence in these places, those in need of hypertension treatment may now access it in the South-Western Regions (Mbarara), Eastern Regions (Jinja), and Central Regions (Mityana). “
In the countries where it has been adopted, HHA has performed approximately 25.7 million blood pressure checks, both in community settings and in healthcare facilities. Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other health care providers have been trained to educate the public, screen for disease, and treat patients. More than 900 African healthcare facilities have been contracted to deliver hypertension services, and over 5 million people have been identified as having high blood pressure.