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Ministry unveils programme to curb rising heart diseases

Ministry unveils programme to curb rising heart diseases

Ministry unveils programme to curb rising heart diseases

Dr Diana Atwine, the permanent secretary Ministry of Health. FILE PHOTO
In Summary
The new programme dubbed “Healthy Heart Africa (HHA)” programme is intended to tackle the burden of undiagnosed and uncontrolled hypertension in the country.
By TONNY ABET
As country commemorated World Hypertension Day on Sunday, the health ministry unveiled a new programme to improve screening, train more health workers and refurbish facilities to tackle the rising burden of hypertension.
In 2014 the ministry’s national survey revealed that 24 percent of Ugandans had elevated blood pressure while the pre-hypertension rate was at 37 percent.
However, most people in the country have not been screened for the condition and knowledge about it remains low.
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a common condition in which the long-term force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease. Pre-hypertension is when one’s blood pressure level is at the borderline to be declared hypertensive.
According to experts, the leading risk factors for hypertension include tobacco use, obesity, and lack of physical exercise and excessive consumption of alcohol.
The new programme dubbed “Healthy Heart Africa (HHA)” programme is intended to tackle the burden of undiagnosed and uncontrolled hypertension in the country.
The programme targets, among others, to screen over 12 million people for hypertension. The amount of money being injected to achieve this was not disclosed.
However, the programme is being funded by a private firm AstraZeneca, a global biopharmaceutical company that manufacturers prescription medicines for Oncology, Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases, and Respiratory.
Dr Diana Atwine, the permanent secretary at the ministry upon signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the firm last Friday said government is committed to reversing the high prevalence of hypertension in our country.
“This year’s World Hypertension Day, which is being marked at a time when we are also tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, offers an opportunity to highlight our common determination to provide quality healthcare to all Ugandans,” she said.
The PS said that the ministry would 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.
“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,” she said.
The Head of Access to Healthcare and Global Sustainability at AstraZeneca, Ms Ashling Mulvaney highlighted that the programme that is also operating in Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Ghana aims at identifying barriers that hinder access to hypertension care and work to strengthen the healthcare system by addressing the prevention and raising awareness.
“Our experience since the first HHA programme was implemented has given us insight and learning that will help us to implement a successful programme in Uganda together,” Ms Mulvaney said.

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