Healthy Heart Africa marks nine years of impact addressing the burden of hypertension in Sub-Saharan Africa

This World Heart Day, AstraZeneca and partners are commemorating nine years of impact in the fight against hypertension, helping to decrease the burden of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) through the Healthy Heart Africa (HHA) programme.

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 are hosting a webinar to take stock of achievements to date and discuss future strategies to tackle the rising burden of CVDs and NCDs across Africa. The discussion will feature insights on the role of public-private partnerships in supporting primary healthcare, drawing on lessons from the HHA programme. 

Panellists will 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 Lead, 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 far1.

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.”

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.

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