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WHD: AstraZeneca, partners share best practice in battle against hypertension, others

…Commemorate nine years of Healthy Heart Africa operations


By Chinenye Anuforo

To mark this year’s World Heart Day (WHD), AstraZeneca and partners today, convened health stakeholders and shared best practice in the battle against hypertension, cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) through the Healthy Heart Africa (HHA) programme as well as their efforts to deliver more equitable health outcomes across Africa.

Since its inception in 2014, the programme has conducted over 38.5 million blood pressure screenings; diagnosed over 3.1 million people; trained over 10,600 healthcare workers, including doctors, nurses, community health volunteers and pharmacists to provide education and awareness, screening and treatment services; and activated over 1,300 healthcare facilities to provide hypertension services .

To mark the programme’s nine-year anniversary, AstraZeneca and partners hosted a webinar and took stock of achievements to date and discussed future strategies to tackle the rising burden of CVDs and NCDs across Africa.
The discussion featured insights on the role of public-private partnerships in supporting primary healthcare, drawing on lessons from the HHA programme.


Panellists include representatives from Ministries of Health in implementing countries and programme partners, including 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, 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 3 on good health and wellbeing. That is why, together with 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 continue to collaborate with all stakeholders to ensure a healthier future for our citizens.”


Healthy Heart Africa is committed to tackling hypertension and the rising burden of CVDs and NCDs in Africa. The programme is on track to achieve its ambition of reaching 10 million people with elevated blood pressure by 2025, with 7.7 million readings recorded thus far.

HHA supports local health system resilience by addressing the barriers that prevent access to care by increasing awareness of the symptoms and risks of hypertension and educating around healthy lifestyle choices; training providers and driving care to lower levels of the healthcare system; and offering health screening, and access to treatment and disease management.

In less than a decade, HHA has successfully implemented and expanded a multi-stakeholder model to deliver improved and more equitable health outcomes across the continent.

Starting its journey in Kenya in 2014 and subsequently expanding to Ethiopia, Tanzania, Ghana, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and Rwanda, Nigeria and Zanzibar, HHA supports sustainable models by working with local health systems. Our approach to addressing the burden of hypertension works best when integrated into existing health systems, working in partnership at a local level.

Qutaiba Al Manaseer, Senior Director of Corporate Affairs for the Middle East & Africa Region at AstraZeneca, says: “Healthy Heart Africa demonstrates 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 that is hypertension and to improve patient outcomes.”

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.

According to the World Health Organization, hypertension affects 1 in 3 adults worldwide and Africa has the highest prevalence of hypertension in any region, with the number of adults suffering from high blood pressure in sub-Saharan Africa projected to reach 216.8 million by 2030. In 2019, more than 1 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.