The ministry of Health in partnership with AstraZeneca, a science-led biopharmaceutical company, have announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that will pave the way for implementation of the Healthy Heart Africa (HHA) programme.
Dr Diana Atwine, the ministry of Health permanent secretary, signed the MoU with Ashling Mulvaney, AstraZeneca’s head of access to healthcare, global sustainability.
HHA is AstraZeneca's innovative programme committed to tackling hypertension (high blood pressure) and the increasing burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in Africa.
HHA 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; training 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.
This makes Uganda the fifth country of implementation after Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Ghana. The partnership aims to strengthen the provision of services for managing and preventing hypertension, including raising awareness of lifestyle risk factors for CVD, using the Health ministry guidelines to standardize care and upskilling health workers through training and education.
A 2014 national STEPwise survey showed that 24.3 per cent of Ugandans had elevated blood pressure, while the pre-hypertension rate was at 37 per cent. The study also showed that over 70 per cent of the respondents had never had their blood pressure measured and that 76.1 per cent of those with raised blood pressure were untreated.
Only 7.7 per cent of 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 per cent of adults were estimated to have high blood pressure in 2014, the highest prevalence in any region.
Commenting on the milestone, Dr Diana Atwine said: “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. To achieve this, the ministry shall continue to spearhead programmes that equip our healthcare system with the tools, resources, knowledge, and trained personnel required to tackle both communicable and non-communicable diseases. We are therefore excited to unveil this partnership with AstraZeneca to implement the HHA programme, which will contribute to our government’s objective of reversing the high prevalence of hypertension in our country.”
On her part, Mulvaney highlighted: “We are delighted to partner with the ministry of Health to support the government’s goal of tackling non-communicable diseases, which are a growing public health issue for the country. Through HHA, 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. 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.”