Recently, the members of the Novartis Foundation Board met in Ghana to experience two of the Novartis Foundation programs on the ground. The Board went on a field trip to the eastern region and to greater Accra. They visited the Foundation’s Community-based hypertension management program (ComHIP), whose goal is to improve the detection and control of hypertension, the prime risk factor for cardiovascular disease. ComHIP shifts the patient’s point of access to care from the hospital, which is often distant and crowded, to the community. Local businesses and healthcare workers based in the community are trained to screen and care for hypertensive patients. The Board visited a licensed chemical seller to witness patient screening and community nurses at a local health center and they discussed the further integration of the ComHip model with Koku Awoonor,Director at Ghana Health Service.
The new Telemedicine Center in Greater Accra was another focus area of the Board visit, where they met healthcare staff in action. Telemedicine uses information and communications technology (ICT) to connect community health workers to medical specialists via 24-hour teleconsultation centers. Doctors, nurses and midwives in the teleconsultation centers coach community health workers and advise on the treatment of their patients, helping them manage emergency cases that are beyond their capacity and avoiding unnecessary referrals.
Finally, the Board spent time at the greater Accra referral hospital to witness for themselves the burden of cardiovascular disease locally by meeting with patients, experts and healthcare professionals.
Vasant Narasimhan,Chief Executive Officer of Novartis: ”Great experience in Africa visiting our teams and programs. I was inspired meeting members of the Novartis Foundation and its partners in Ghana that empowers local businesses to provide hypertension screening and care in their community.”
In addition to the field experience, the Board members met with Ghana health authorities to underpin their longstanding successful partnership in pioneering new ways of delivering. A further highlight of their visit was the town hall at the University of Ghana. Jörg Reinhardt,Chairman,Peter Piot,Director, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine,Ann Aerts,Head of the Novartis Foundation and Vasant Narasimhan spoke to policy makers, professors, practitioners and students about improving access to healthcare in Africa, innovation in healthcare and reimagining medicine in Africa. The town hall closed with a Q&A session with the panelists Prof. Richard M.K. Adanu,Dean, School of Public Health, University of Ghana,Vasant Narasimhan, Peter Piot and Patrice Matchaba,Group Head Global Health & Corporate Responsibility.
“It's been an action-packed couple of days in Ghana with our @NovartisFDN Board, culminating yesterday in a Town Hall event w/ @UnivofGhana. Exciting to hear from Acting Chief Director of the Ministry of Health, Mr. H. Adagurugu on the commitment to #UHC in Ghana,” tweetedAnn Aerts.