AstraZeneca launches Healthy Heart Africa programme to address hypertension in Africa

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

AstraZeneca has today launched a programme aimed at tackling the burden of hypertension in Africa. Healthy Heart Africa is designed in consultation and collaboration with non-governmental and community based organisations, international organisations, health experts and governments to support local health systems by increasing awareness of the symptoms and risks of hypertension and offering education, screening, treatment and control. The programme will initially be launched in Kenya, with a view to expanding to other countries in the continent.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among those aged over 45 in Africa. The continent has the highest prevalence of adults with hypertension, or high blood pressure, which puts patients at high risk of developing more serious cardiovascular conditions such as heart disease or stroke. Together with seven partners, AMPATH, AMREF Kenya, the Christian Health Association of Kenya, Jhpiego, Population Services Kenya, Mission for Essential Drugs and Supplies and Abt Associates, AstraZeneca will run five demonstration projects to test different ways of addressing the barriers currently preventing access to care for patients with high blood pressure.

AstraZeneca has initiated the programme to highlight its commitment to improving the health of patients in Africa, leveraging its knowledge of cardiovascular disease – one of its core therapy areas – to make a significant impact on what is becoming one of the continent’s major causes of mortality and morbidity. The programme also reinforces the company's long-term growth ambition in the region. Healthy Heart Africa, the first programme of its kind, has three components:

  • Education and awareness – increasing awareness of the risk factors associated with hypertension and how to prevent it, as well as prompting patients to access screening services.
  • Provider training and treatment guidelines – supporting training for health and community care workers and developing guidelines with professional societies and the Kenyan Ministry of Health to ensure consistency in the level and quality of care.
  • Access and affordability – improving access to hypertension treatment and ensuring a consistent supply of low priced, affordable medicines including calcium-channel blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and hydrochlorothiazide diuretics.

The demonstration projects will run for a period of 12-18 months and will test different models to determine the most effective methods of integrating hypertension care into existing health platforms, including USAID-supported HIV/AIDS care platforms, networks of private primary care providers and pharmacies and public and faith-based clinics. The projects will be carried out predominantly in urban and surrounding areas in the central and western counties of Kenya and will be independently evaluated. Those demonstrating the greatest impact will be taken forward and expanded across the country and, in the longer term, into other parts of Africa.

Mark Mallon, Executive Vice President, International at AstraZeneca, said: “Recognising a significant unmet medical need, we have been working closely with governments, health experts and community organisations to design a programme that can have a real and lasting impact on the identification, treatment and prevention of hypertension in Africa – one that offers education and care as well as access to affordable medicines. By taking a holistic approach to healthcare delivery, establishing strong working partnerships and securing local ownership through collaboration at all levels of the healthcare system, we will ensure that Healthy Heart Africa is sustainable over the long-term.”

Prof. Elijah Ogola, Kenya Vice-President (East), Pan African Society of Cardiology, said: “Cardiovascular disease is rapidly rising in Africa and hypertension is one of the main risk factors. In Kenya alone, over 40 per cent of adults have high blood pressure and it is vital that we address this growing problem early by increasing awareness, treatment and control rates. We welcome AstraZeneca’s Healthy Heart Africa programme, which has the potential to have a significant impact on the burden of cardiovascular disease across this continent.”

Hypertension is an often-overlooked non-communicable disease that puts patients at high risk of developing more serious cardiovascular conditions such as coronary heart disease and stroke. Africa has the highest prevalence of adults with hypertension at 46%, and a quarter of all premature deaths in Africa are attributable to the condition*. AstraZeneca’s ambition through the programme is to ensure that 10 million patients with high blood pressure are on treatments which control their condition by 2025, supporting the World Health Organisation’s (WHO’s) ‘25 by 25’ global monitoring framework for preventing and controlling non-communicable diseases. If achieved, this would address a quarter of the WHO’s hypertension target in Africa.


About hypertension

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and indicates an increased risk of heart attack, heart failure, stroke and other complications. Hypertension causes 7.5 million deaths annually (12.8% of all deaths) and the risk of dying from hypertension in low and middle-income countries is more than double that in high-income countries.

Africa is home to the highest prevalence of people over 25 with raised blood pressure. In Africa, 25% of deaths under 60 are attributable to hypertension. In 2000, there were approximately 80 million adults with hypertension in Africa, current epidemiological data suggest that this figure will rise to 150 million by 2025. In contrast to developed regions, Africa has seen a steady increase in high blood pressure in both sexes since the 1990s. In Kenya alone, 44.5% of adults have raised blood pressure, which is one of the highest prevalence rates across Africa.

About AstraZeneca’s Healthy Heart Africa partners

AMPATH (The Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare) was established in 2001 as part of the Ministry of Health's response to the HIV pandemic. With funding from USAID, AMPATH was able to rapidly scale up to become one of the largest and most comprehensive HIV programmes within the Ministry of Health. AMPATH represents a collaborative construct that is unique in Africa. It represents a North American consortium teamed with Moi University School of Medicine and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital - with each member of the collaboration armed with a new sense of mission. That mission is for AMPATH to join with the Ministry of Health and new county governments to assist in creating comprehensive models of care that are responsive to the needs of the population. AMPATH continues to impact the community with innovative care interventions, research and training in the fields of HIV and non-communicable diseases and its response covers primary to tertiary care.

AMREF Kenya is Africa’s largest international health NGO. AMREF Kenya’s vision is for “lasting health change in Africa”: communities with the knowledge, skills and means to maintain their good health and break the cycle of poor health and poverty. With a focus on women and children, AMREF Kenya works with the most vulnerable communities to achieve lasting health change.

The Christian Health Association of Kenya (CHAK) is a leading national faith based organisation of protestant churches' health facilities and programmes from all over Kenya. Established in 1946, CHAK has the goal of promoting access to quality healthcare.

Jhpiego is an international, non-profit health organisation affiliated with The Johns Hopkins University. For more than 40 years, Jhpiego has empowered front-line health workers by designing and implementing effective, low-cost, hands-on solutions to strengthen the delivery of health care services for women and their families. By putting evidence-based health innovations into everyday practice, Jhpiego works to break down barriers to high-quality health care for the world’s most vulnerable populations.

Population Services Kenya (PS Kenya), which transitioned to PS Kenya in January 2014 but remains part of the Population Services International (PSI) global network, has been measurably improving the health of Kenyans since 1989. PS Kenya's approach harnesses the vitality of the private sector to improve health outcomes for “Sara”- their archetype that focuses their interventions. PS Kenya addresses the most serious health challenges affecting resource-poor and vulnerable communities in Kenya, including HIV/AIDS, reproductive health and family planning, and the greatest threats to children under five including malaria, diarrhoea, pneumonia and malnutrition.

Mission for Essential Drugs and Supplies (MEDS), is a medical supply chain and capacity building organisation. Its mission is to provide reliable, quality, affordable essential medicines, medical supplies, capacity building, quality control and other pharmaceutical services guided by Christian and professional values. MEDS is a Christian not-for-profit organisation registered as a Trust of the ecumenical partnership of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) and the Christian Health Association of Kenya (CHAK).

Abt Associates is a mission-driven, global leader in research and programme implementation in the fields of health, social and environmental policy, and international development. Known for its rigorous approach to solving complex challenges, Abt Associates is regularly ranked as one of the top 20 global research firms and one of the top 40 international development innovators. The company has multiple offices in the U.S. and programme offices in more than 40 countries.

About AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialisation of prescription medicines, primarily for the treatment of cardiovascular, metabolic, respiratory, inflammation, autoimmune, oncology, infection and neuroscience diseases. AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide. For more information please visit:


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*World Health Organisation Global Status Report on non-communicable diseases 2010.