KAMPALA – As the world is going to celebrate the World Hypertension Day on May 17, AstraZeneca and the Ministry of Health (MoH) have announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will pave the way for implementation of the Healthy Heart Africa (HHA) programme.
This makes Uganda the fifth country of implementation after Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Ghana.
The partnership aims at strengthening the provision of services for managing and preventing hypertension, including raising awareness of lifestyle risk factors for CVD, using MoH guidelines to standardise care and upskilling health workers through training and education.
Commenting on the milestone, Dr Diana Atwine Kanzira, the Permanent Secretary of MoH said that at a time when the country is tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, they also have an opportunity to highlight the common determination to provide quality healthcare to all Ugandans.
“To achieve this, the Ministry of Health, under the leadership of His Excellency President Yoweri Museveni, shall continue to spearhead programmes that equip our healthcare system with the tools, resources, knowledge and trained personnel required to tackle both communicable and non-communicable diseases,” she said.
She added that, “We are therefore excited to unveil this partnership with AstraZeneca to implement the Healthy Heart Africa programme, which will contribute to our government’s objective of reversing the high prevalence of hypertension in our country.”
Ashling Mulvaney, Head of Access to Healthcare, Global Sustainability, AstraZeneca noted that they are delighted to partner with the Ugandan Ministry of Health to support the government’s goal of tackling non-communicable diseases, which are a growing public health issue for the country.
“Through Healthy Heart Africa, we will be able to identify barriers that hinder access to hypertension care and work together to strengthen the healthcare system by addressing the prevention, awareness and diagnosis of hypertension, as well as the education and training of health workers,” he said.
Mulvaney said their experience since the first HHA programme was implemented has given them insight and learnings that will help them to implement a successful programme in Uganda together.
According to the national STEPwise survey conducted in Uganda in 2014, 24.3 percent of Ugandans had elevated blood pressure, while the pre-hypertension rate was at 37 percent.
The study also showed that over 70 percent of the respondents had never had their blood pressure measured and that 76.1 percent of those with raised blood pressure were untreated.
Only 7.7 percent of participants with hypertension were aware of their high blood pressure, suggesting a high burden of undiagnosed and uncontrolled hypertension in the region.