AstraZeneca, in partnership with the Ghana Health Service (GHS), has unveilled a partnership that will spearhead implementation of the Healthy Heart Africa (HHA) programme in the country.
The HHA is AstraZeneca’s innovative programme committed to tackling hypertension (high blood pressure) and the increasing burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in Africa. To achieve this, HHA supports local health systems by increasing awareness of the symptoms and risks of hypertension, and by offering education, screening, reduced-cost treatment and control.
HHA aspires to reach 10 million people with elevated blood pressure across Africa by 2025.
The partnership seeks to contribute in the prevention and control of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) in Ghana, with emphasis on hypertension. This objective is in line with the World Health Organisation’s global targets as part of the Global Action Plan on non-communicable diseases (NCDs); and also the UN Sustainable Development Goals on reducing the morbidity and mortality associated with NCDs by 2030.
In his speech, the Director General of GHS, Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare said: “Today, we see the launch of a project aimed at screening people for high blood pressure and to link them with care. The very nature of the disease is that most affected people show no symptoms. This means that waiting for symptoms to diagnose high blood pressure may be dangerous. Such dire consequences of hypertension, including strokes and heart-attacks, come with severe effects on the quality of life for persons who suffer these unfortunate complications”.
He added that screening and linkage to care after diagnosis remains one of the most viable options for reducing the incidence of complications and deaths associated with high blood pressure.
“It is in this light that this collaboration between the Ghana Health Service, AstraZeneca and Lincoln to screen and diagnose persons with high blood pressure or persons at risk of high blood pressure seem to care is a useful venture,” said Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare.
He revealed that the Ghana Health Service and AstraZeneca have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to pilot this project in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. In implementing the Health Heart Africa projects, Ghana joins the likes of Kenya and Tanzania where similar projects have been implemented and which have chalked up significant successes.
Dr. Nsiah-Asare thanked AstraZeneca for making the necessary financial commitment to the project, and assured them that the expertise available with the Ghana Health Service and other agencies of the MOH will be brought on board to support the project’s implementation.
In 2014, the Ghana Demographic and Health Survey reported that the overall prevalence of hypertension among persons aged 15 to 49 years was 13.0% (12.1% for males and 13.4% for females). Among respondents who had hypertension, 45.6% were aware of their hypertension status; 40.5% were treating the condition, while only 23.8% had their blood pressure controlled
According to the Chairman of the NCD Steering Committee at the Ministry of Health, Prof. Plange-Rhule, Non-Communicable Disease prevalence has been growing throughout the world and in Ghana; and because of this, the Ministry of Health launched and is implementing the National Policy for the Prevention and Control of Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases in Ghana.
He said the policy prioritises health promotion, early detection and health system strengthening. “That is why we welcome this innovative partnership, as it is in line with our focus to prevent and reduce the prevalence of hypertension in the country,” he added.
Ashling Mulvaney, Global Head Sustainability Strategy & Healthy Heart Africa, AstraZeneca highlighted that: “The extension of the HHA programme into Ghana is a major milestone, as it will enable us to raise awareness of hypertension and provide sustainable measures that strengthen and support local health systems, through training and guidelines. It is tailored to work in partnership with local stakeholders to address challenges identified in the provision of high quality and effective NCD healthcare”.
AstraZeneca is a global, science-led biopharmaceutical company that focuses on the discovery, development, and commercialisation of prescription medicines, primarily for the treatment of diseases in three main therapy areas – Oncology, Cardiovascular & Metabolic Diseases, and Respiratory. The company is also selectively active in the areas of Autoimmunity, Neuroscience, and Infection. AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries, and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide.