BusinessDay

AstraZeneca launches Healthy Heart Africa programme to control hypertension

AstraZeneca said it has in partnership with the Federal Government of Nigeria, launched the Healthy Heart Africa (HHA) programme in Nigeria to support the prevention and control of hypertension.

Launched through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), the HHA will contribute to building a resilient health system by integrating into the primary healthcare system to screen and detect hypertension from people visiting healthcare facilities.

With the launch, Nigeria becomes the ninth country where the programme has been implemented in Africa since 2014 following Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Ghana, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, and Rwanda.

Speaking at the launch of the programme in Abuja, Osagie Ehanire, minister of health, said the Ministry has the vision to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Nigeria and to strengthen the health system for the delivery of equitable services through the Essential Package of Health Services (EPHS).

“The HHA programme will contribute to attaining our objective of orienting the health system towards addressing prevention and control of NCDs at all levels of care and by integrating them into our primary healthcare system. It will also play a role in evaluating the prevalence of NCDs through data recording,” he said.

Ashling Mulvaney, vice president, Global Sustainability and Access to Healthcare at AstraZeneca, lauded the steps that the Federal Ministry of Health and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency have taken to tackle the burden of the disease in Nigeria in the face of a growing hypertension burden.

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According to Mulvaney, the programme will contribute to strengthening the healthcare system by screening for hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, at the primary healthcare level.

Mulvaney said HHA will also contribute to a sustainable healthcare system by training healthcare providers on hypertension screening, treatment and management, supporting implementing facilities with screening equipment and promoting education and awareness activities in the community.

Faisal Shuaib, the executive director/ CEO of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), said the coming of the Healthy Heart Africa programme to Nigeria is a welcome development because it contributes to the ongoing efforts of expanding and enhancing primary healthcare and universal health coverage.

Shuaib said NPHCDA is reimagining the primary healthcare landscape, adding that the vision of the agency is to strengthen primary healthcare service delivery through an inclusive and integrated approach.

He enjoined Nigerians across all 17 implementing states and the Federal Capital Territory to take advantage of the programme by undergoing screening for high blood pressure for early detection and management.

“It is important that the programme collects data on hypertension from its screening activities because this will possibly inform future decisions and policies on cardiovascular diseases like hypertension. We will ensure full integration of this programme with other ongoing government initiatives including Covid-19 vaccination, routine immunisation, and optimised antenatal care (ANC),” Shuaib said.

On her part, Fatima Bunza, chief of party, PSI Nigeria, said the body is committed to improving primary healthcare by providing tailored solutions to the communities they operate.

“Through HHA, we look forward to implementing a collaborative approach to improve hypertension healthcare in Nigeria. By integrating the programme into the primary healthcare system, we are positioned to reach more people and detect high blood pressure before it becomes life-threatening,” Bunza said.

The Healthy Heart Africa programme in Nigeria will be executed by Population Services International (PSI) Nigeria and will contribute to the prevention and control of cardiovascular diseases in the country with a focus on hypertension.

It will be implemented in the Federal Capital Territory and 17 states across Nigeria, including Adamawa, Anambra, Akwa-Ibom, Bauchi, Delta, Enugu, Gombe Imo, Jigawa, Kebbi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Rivers, and Sokoto States.

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