LAST year, the government teamed up with AstraZeneca’s Healthy Heart Africa (HHA) programme and the Touch Foundation to spearhead the country’s strategic action plan for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
The partnership was designed to substantially reduce the prevalence of hypertension, particularly among expectant mothers.
Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is one of the major risk factors for Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) – a condition in which the heart’s blood supply is blocked or interrupted by a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries, leading to a heart attack.
Sadly, CHD (also known as Ischemic Heart Disease) is one of the leading causes of death in Tanzania.
The government welcomed the innovative partnership as it is in line with its focus on community-based prevention, health promotion, screening, early treatment as well as rehabilitation.
This initiative is also in line with President Magufuli’s belief that the mission of building a modern economy and fighting against poverty goes hand-in-hand with having citizens of sound health. Hypertensive disorders cause 16 per cent of maternal deaths in Tanzania.
Although the prevalence of hypertension is high, awareness and treatment rates have painfully remained low, calling for enhancement of public education.
The extension of the HHA programme into Tanzania is a major milestone as it contributes to the improvement of the lives of communities who have the most significant challenges accessing healthcare services.
Its goal is primarily to improve the capacity of the health system to address the burden of hypertension in pregnant and postpartum women, by strengthening the health workforce and enhancing maternal patient pathways.
The HHA programme, initially launched in Kenya in 2014, aims to reach 10 million people with high blood pressure in Africa in support of the World Health Organization’s global hypertension target of 25 per cent reduction in the prevalence of raised blood pressure by 2025.
Tanzania, therefore, needs to take deliberate measures to push the campaign against NCDs to high levels to arouse public awareness in combating the health disorders.