Ghana: Project to Control Cardiovascular Diseases Launched

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) and AstraZeneca, a world leading Biopharmaceutical Company yesterday launched a three-year project to control the prevalence of cardiovascular diseases in the country.

Directly targeted at reducing hypertension which remains one of the top Out-Patient-Department (OPD) cases in the country, the project would ensure the screening and diagnosis of persons at high risk of blood pressure or those with the condition; and link them to quality healthcare.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed to that effect would see the project piloted in the Ashanti Region within the next three years under the Company's Healthy Heart Africa (HHA) programme.

The HHA aims at improving access to hypertension care by making medicines readily available at a discount. It further hopes to reach about 10 million people with high blood pressure across Africa by 2025.

At the launch in Accra on Friday, Director-General (D-G) of the GHS, Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, indicated that hypertension had topped OPD cases in the last three decades.

"Of greater concern is the report by the Ghana Demographic and Health Survey of 2014 which showed that a significant number of Ghanaians (63 per cent women and 86 per cent men) with high blood pressure were unaware of the diagnosis," he said.

According to the D-G, "screening and linking to care after diagnosis remained our most viable choice to reduce the incidence, complications and deaths associated with high blood pressure."

Dr Nsiah-Asare was hopeful the project with AstraZeneca would help stem the tide, assuring that all expertise within the GHS would be harnessed for the successful implementation of the project.

"Hypertension is a silent killer and we must all work towards reducing the incidence of morbidity and mortality associated with the condition," he urged.

The Programme Manager, Non-Communicable Disease Control Programme, Dennis Odai Laryea who gave an overview of the hypertension burden in the country pointed out the prevalence was higher in urban areas than rural areas.

He said, "a higher proportion of the person's with high BP remained undiagnosed and present the biggest challenge to reducing morbidity and mortality associated with the disease."

Dr Laryea however noted that opportunities exist for the prevention and control of hypertension urging that efforts are increased in screening and health education in that regard.

Ashling Mulvaney, Global Head, Sustainability Strategy & Healthy Heart Africa, AstraZenecahighlighted that "the extension of the HHA programme to Ghana was a major milestone, as it would 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 non-communicable disease healthcare," she explained.

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