AstraZeneca has announced a planned expansion of its access to healthcare programme, Healthy Heart Africa (HHA), to 10 new countries, starting in 2023.
The programme, which is currently present in nine countries, is designed to contribute to the prevention and control of hypertension and decrease the burden of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) across Africa.
The World Heart Federation states that in 2019, Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for one million deaths from CVDs or 5.4 percent of all CVD-related deaths worldwide and 13 percent of all deaths in Africa.
Hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, is the most important modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular diseases.
The World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that the African region has the highest prevalence of hypertension at 27 percent, demonstrating the need for prevention and management interventions.
In 2011, the United Nations set a goal to achieve a 25 percent reduction of premature noncommunicable deaths globally by 2025.
HHA contributes to strengthening health systems by working in partnership with local stakeholders to provide services such as free blood pressure screening, creating education and awareness about cardiovascular diseases and their risk factors, and providing blood pressure screening equipment and training healthcare workers on guidelines to improve the quality of care.
Since 2014, the programme has conducted over 30.5 million blood pressure screenings and trained more than 9,900 healthcare workers.
Commenting on the planned expansion, Ashling Mulvaney, Vice President, Global Sustainability, Access to Healthcare, AstraZeneca said: “We believe in leveraging the power of partnerships to provide equitable and affordable access to life-changing treatments for people, especially in low and middle-income countries (LMICs).
This expansion will increase our contribution to halting and reversing the prevalence of cardiovascular diseases in Africa. HHA has made a significant impact in supporting cardiovascular healthcare on the continent, as shown by our screening and training data.
I am delighted that the programme has been recognised once again by the 2022 Access to Medicine Index, as a Best Practice for its role in contributing to access to affordable healthcare in Africa.”
The planned expansion will be to Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, The Gambia, Madagascar, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Zambia, and Zimbabwe – in partnership with the Africa Christian Health Associations Platform (ACHAP) and PATH, who will implement and manage the programme expansion to five countries each over the next two years.
Existing HHA programmes will continue in Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania (including Zanzibar), Ghana, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Rwanda, and Nigeria, with a range of implementing partners, including ACHAP and PATH.