The increasing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as cardiovascular disease (CVD), is a global health concern; not only in developed countries, but also in developing regions where traditionally more emphasis is placed on infectious disease prevention.
In Africa, CVD is the leading cause of death among those aged 45 and over.1The continent has the highest prevalence of adults with hypertension (high blood pressure)2 which puts patients at high risk of developing more serious cardiovascular conditions such as heart disease or stroke.3
To help address this challenge, AstraZeneca developed and launched Healthy Heart Africa in October last year, leveraging a century-long expertise in the cardiovascular field, one of our core therapy areas. Healthy Heart Africa is an innovative and sustainable programme committed to tackling hypertension and the increasing burden of CVD across Africa.
Through the programme, we aim to reach 10 million hypertensive patients across Sub-Saharan Africa by 2025, supporting the World Health Organisation’s global hypertension target (25% reduction by 2025).4
The strategy for Healthy Heart Africa encompasses three pillars:
- Education and awareness: conducting activities that will encourage people to seek screening and diagnosis when needed
- Training and guidelines: building healthcare workers’ capacity to provide comprehensive and appropriate hypertension care and developing a localised treatment protocol
- Access and affordability: strengthening the supply chain for antihypertensive medicines, and ensuring patients can access affordable, high-quality care
Healthy Heart Africa launched its 18-month demonstration project in Kenya with a view to expanding across Africa. It’s the first initiative of this scale aimed at tackling the rise of hypertension on the continent. Our long term commitment in the CVD field and a wealth of knowledge from our ongoing work in large cardiovascular outcomes trials prepare us to increase rates of diagnosis and treatment, raise awareness of associated risk factors, improve healthcare delivery infrastructure, and subsequently promote ongoing adherence to treatment guidelines.
However, we cannot do it alone. AstraZeneca has been working in partnership with governments and international, non-governmental and community-based organisations, in both the design and delivery of Healthy Heart Africa. We have also built strong relationships with African cardiovascular experts in order to understand which approaches will work best for patients in the region, many of whom will have never been screened nor received anti-hypertensive medication before.
AstraZeneca and our partners share a passion for improving the lives of patients in Africa and safeguarding long-term access to medicines. AstraZeneca is committed to researching and developing new therapies in CVD and addressing the many challenges that come with it. As such, we are proud to be executing Healthy Heart Africa, which we hope will lay the foundation for future programmes focused on preventing and treating NCDs across the globe.
1. AstraZeneca launches Healthy Heart Africa programme to address hypertension in Africa. AstraZeneca press release. 28 October 2014. Available at: http://www.astrazeneca.com/our-company/media-centre/press-releases/2014/astrazeneca-launches-healthy-heart-africa-programme-28102014.html . Last accessed: 13 February 2015
2. World Health Organization. Global Status Report on non-communicable diseases 2010. Available at: http://www.who.int/nmh/publications/ncd_report_full_en.pdf. Accessed 24 September 2014.
3. World Health Organization. Cardiovascular diseases. Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs317/en/. Accessed 24 September 2014.
4. World Health Organization. NCD Global Monitoring Framework: Ensuring progress on noncommunicable diseases in countries. Available at: http://www.who.int/nmh/global_monitoring_framework/en/ Last accessed October 2014.