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AstraZeneca expands Healthy Heart Africa Programme to Nigeria

by Haruna Gimba

By Asmau Ahmad

AstraZeneca and the Federal Government of Nigeria through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), and Population Services International (PSI) have announced the launch of the Healthy Heart Africa (HHA) programme in Nigeria.

Dr Ashling Mulvaney, the Vice President, Global Sustainability and Access to Healthcare, AstraZeneca, in a statement on Thursday in Lagos, said that the expansion of HHA programme to Nigeria was to support the prevention and control of hypertension

Mulvaney said that the HHA would contribute to building a resilient health system by integrating into the primary healthcare system screening and detection of hypertension from more people who visit healthcare facilities.

According to him, the 2018 World Health Organisation Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) profile indicates that NCDs were responsible for 29 per cent of all deaths in Nigeria, with cardiovascular diseases accounting for 11 per cent of all fatalities.

“This marks the ninth country of the programme implementation in Africa since 2014, following Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Ghana, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, and Rwanda.

“A systematic review and multi-study data analysis of NCDs and their risk factors conducted in 2018, found that nearly one-third of Nigerians have hypertension.

“Others studies reveal that more than half of people with the disease in Nigeria are unaware they have it.

“With awareness of having the disease at such a low level, prevention and education are vital to tackle the increasing threat of the illness,” he said.

Mulvaney said that the programmes were executed by PSI Nigeria and would contribute to the prevention and control of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) in the country with a focus on hypertension.

He noted that it would be implemented in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) 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.

He added: “In the face of a growing hypertension burden, I would like to commend 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.

According to him, at the launch, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said that the ministry had a vision to reduce the burden of NCDs in Nigeria and to strengthen the health system for the delivery of equitable services through the Essential Package of Health Services (EPHS).

He quoted the minister as saying, “To achieve this, we acknowledge partnerships as one of our strategic focus areas.

“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.”

Mulvaney quoted Dr Faisal Shuaib, the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the NPHCDA to have commended the HHA’s expansion to Nigeria.

“It contributes to our ongoing efforts of expanding and enhancing primary healthcare and universal health coverage at a time, we are reimagining the PHC landscape.

“Our vision is to strengthen primary healthcare (PHC) service delivery through an inclusive and integrated approach.

“We encourage people 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 immunization, and optimised antenatal care (ANC),” Shuaib was quoted as saying.

In his remark, Dr Fatima Bunza, Chief of Party, PSI Nigeria, was also quoted as saying, “We are committed to improving primary healthcare by providing tailored solutions to the communities where we 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.”

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