By Funmilola Gboteku
AstraZeneca, a multinational pharmaceutical company, has called for public-private partnership, strong health care systems to combat cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) in Africa.
Qutaiba Al Manaseer, Senior Director of Corporate Affairs for the Middle East and Africa Region at AstraZeneca, made the call during a webinar organised to celebrate nine years of impact in the fight against hypertension through the Healthy Heart Africa (HHA) programme.
The webinar was also held to mark the World Heart Day.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Healthy Heart Africa is an initiative of AstraZeneca, being implemented across Africa in collaboration with African governments and non-governmental organisations.
Manaseer said the programme had helped to decrease the burden of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Africa.
He said according to the World Health Organisation, hypertension affected one in three adults worldwide and Africa had the highest prevalence of hypertension in any region.
Manaseer said the number of adults suffering from high blood pressure in sub-Saharan Africa was also projected to reach 216.8 million by 2030.
He added that In 2019, more than one million deaths were due to cardiovascular diseases in sub-Saharan Africa, which constituted 5.4 per cent of all global CVD-related deaths and 13 per cent of all deaths in Africa.
On what HHA had done since its inception in 2014, Manaseer said the programme had conducted over 38.5 million blood pressure screenings and diagnosed over 3.1 million people.
“We have trained over 10,600 healthcare workers, including doctors, nurses, community health volunteers and pharmacists to provide education, awareness, screening and treatment services.
“Also, we have activated over 1,300 healthcare facilities to provide hypertension services.
“Healthy Heart Africa has demonstrated the power of public-private partnerships in delivering sustainable solutions that strengthen the resilience of local health systems.
“We will continue collaborating with stakeholders to tackle the silent killer hypertension and improve patient outcomes,” Manaseer said.
Mr. Deepak Arora, Interim Country President, AstraZeneca in African Cluster, said transforming the lives of patients, ensuring people in Africa had access to innovative medicine was of major importance to them.
He noted that through the HHA they would continue to Invest in medical education and knowledge sharing by ensuring health care professionals had access to information to make the best treatment decisions.
“Healthy Heart Africa is on track to achieve its ambition of reaching 10 million people with elevated blood pressure by 2025, with 7.7 million readings recorded so far,” Arora said.
Dr Yvette Kisaka, Programmes, Division of NCD Prevention and Control, Ministry of Health Kenya says: “We need to strengthen health systems to achieve Universal Health Coverage, as envisioned by Sustainable Development Goal three on good health and wellbeing.
“That is why together with our partners, we are developing strategies such as the National Guidelines for the Management of Cardiovascular Diseases.
“We applaud the Healthy Heart Africa programme’s pivotal role in the fight against cardiovascular disease in Kenya and we will continue to collaborate with all stakeholders to ensure a healthier future for our citizens.”
Kisaka explained that HHA supported local health system resilience by addressing the barriers that prevented access to care by increasing awareness of the symptoms and risks of hypertension.
Dr Suleiman Lamorde, Programme Officer, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) in Nigeria, lauded the HHA programme for the support it has extended in combating hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases in Nigeria.
Speaking on the challenges of primary health care centres in Nigeria, Lamorde said the major issue was shortage of human resources for health.
“For instance, having few health care workers to attend to over 100 patients who needs to get their blood pressure checked.
“As a result of this shortage, most of our patients don’t get the best services.
“However, as a country, Nigeria has mapped out strategies to be able to resolve the issue of human resources in primary health care centres.
“For example, at the national level we are working with states across the country to provide primary health care facilities. We have a database, so we know there shortcomings,” Lamorde said.
He added that they had signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with states across the country to recruit more health workers and also engaged the School of Health Technology and School of Nursing.
NAN reports that HHA started in Kenya in 2014 and subsequently expanded to Ethiopia, Tanzania, Ghana, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Rwanda, Nigeria and Zanzibar. (NAN)
Edited by Salif Atojoko