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More than eight hundred thousand people in the Ashanti Region have benefited from a blood pressure screening initiative by the AstraZeneca-championed Healthy Hearts Africa (HHA) programme being undertaken in partnership with the Ministry of Health.
The move which is the first of two phases forms part of AstraZeneca’s recognition of the fiscal and logistical constraints faced in health delivery on the continent with respect to hypertension.
The HHA programmes since its inception in July 2019, has connected more than 169,000 persons living with elevated blood pressure, to health facilities for treatment and diagnosis.
Ghana has over the years seen an exponential increase in cardio-related non-communicable diseases in the country. A situation experts say can have adverse effects on victims and degenerate into heart, brain and kidney diseases.
Commenting on the impact of the programme, the Ashanti Regional Director of Health Services, Dr Emmanuel Tenkorang, lauded the initiative as timely in creating awareness around the subject matter and demystifying erroneous notions around cardiovascular diseases, particularly among the male population.
Mr Tenkorang said, previously, health professionals have had difficulties explaining cardio-related issues to the communities, largely because of lack of understanding of cardio-related diseases. He added that it was a relief to have the HHA carry out this screening in the Ashanti Region which provides further advocacy on the disease.
At a press briefing, the Associate Director, Government Affairs, Global Sustainability – Access to Healthcare at AstraZeneca, Dr Allan Mackenzie said, government’s participation is integral to the long-term sustainability of the programme. He urged the government to pay critical attention to this beneficial initiative by continuously providing capital even after initial funding has been expended. This he said will strengthen the county’s health systems in addressing cardiovascular diseases.
“It is very critical that the government is involved in the long-term sustainability of the programme. Local government participation and ownership, as we have seen, have witnessed programmes come to a halt after funds for it plummet. It is therefore gratifying that we are partnering government as a key stakeholder so that we are actually strengthening the existing infrastructure to be able to address the rising burden”, he said.
The second phase of the HHA programme is expected to take place soon and will focus on a stakeholder expansionary drive and policy direction, hinged on the unique experiences in the country.
Available data from 2017 suggests, hypertension is the third leading cause of admission and cause of deaths in Ghana. The disease is said to account for 4.7% of the total admissions and has a mortality rate of 15.3%. Experts have projected that; 1 in 4 persons aged 15 years and above have hypertension.
Recent findings from the World Health Organization, undertaken by the Imperial College London on the “first comprehensive global analysis of trends in hypertension prevalence, detection, treatment and control” establishes a worrying trend in hypertension cases worldwide.
Across 184 countries, the report suggests that a number of adults aged 30–79 years with hypertension has doubled over the last 30 years, from 650 million to 1.28 billion, as at 2019.