Uganda has become the fifth country in Africa to implement the Healthy Heart Africa program after the Ministry of Health signed a memorandum of understanding with AstraZeneca.
The memorandum of understanding saw Uganda join Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Ghana to strengthen the provision of services for managing and preventing hypertension, including raising awareness of lifestyle risk factors for CVD, using Ministry of Health guidelines to standardise care and skilling health workers through training and education.
The Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary, Dr.Diana Atwine hailed the memorandum of understanding as a great milestone achieved by the country in its efforts to tackle the problem of hypertension.
“At a time when we are tackling the Covid-19 pandemic, we also have an opportunity to highlight our common determination to provide quality healthcare to all Ugandans. We are therefore excited to unveil this partnership with AstraZeneca to implement the Healthy Heart Africa programme, which will contribute to our government’s objective of reversing the high prevalence of hypertension in our country,”Atwine said.
She noted that government will continue to spearhead programs that equip the healthcare system with tools, resources, knowledge and trained personnel required to tackle both communicable and non-communicable diseases.
According to Ashling Mulvaney, the Head of Access to Healthcare, Global Sustainability, AstraZeneca the partnership will be of great benefit to Uganda’ efforts in tackling hypertension problems.
“We are delighted to partner with the Ugandan Ministry of Health to support the government’s goal of tackling non-communicable diseases, which are a growing public health issue for the country,”Ashling said.
“Through Healthy Heart Africa, we will be able to identify barriers that hinder access to hypertension care and work together to strengthen the healthcare system by addressing the prevention, awareness and diagnosis of hypertension, as well as the education and training of health workers.[i] Our experience since the first HHA programme was implemented has given us insight and learnings that will help us to implement a successful programme in Uganda together,”she added.
According to the national STEPwise survey conducted in Uganda in 2014, 24.3% of Ugandans had elevated blood pressure, while the pre-hypertension rate was at 37%.
The 2014 study also showed that over 70% of the respondents had never had their blood pressure measured and that 76.1% of those with raised blood pressure were untreated.
The study also revealed that only 7.7% of the participants with hypertension were aware of their high blood pressure, suggesting a high burden of undiagnosed and uncontrolled hypertension in the region.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, nearly 30% of adults were estimated to have high blood pressure in 2014, the highest prevalence in any region.
Healthy Heart Africa
Healthy Heart Africa partners with global and local partners with the aim of sustainably improving access to hypertension care by increasing education and awareness around lifestyle choice and CVD risk factors.
The program also ensures training of healthcare providers and driving care to lower levels of the healthcare system, such as primary healthcare facilities and clinics, as well as facilitating access to treatment where appropriate.
Since launching in Kenya in 2014 and subsequently expanding to Ethiopia in 2016, Tanzania in 2018, and Ghana in 2019, Healthy Heart Africa has conducted over 14.5 million blood pressure screenings in the community and in healthcare facilities.
The program has also trained over 7,200 healthcare workers, including doctors, nurses, community health volunteers and pharmacists to provide education and awareness, screening and treatment whereas 780 healthcare facilities in Africa have been activated to provide hypertension services.
Healthy Heart Africa has also identified over 2.6 million people with elevated blood pressure.