Today, many low- and middle-income countries are at a critical juncture. On one hand, there is much work to be done to improve and advance management of infectious disease. At the same time, these countries now face the rising tide of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease.
The reality is that these countries also have limited time or resources to really tackle NCDs. One in particular is cardiovascular disease, the deadliest chronic disease in the world. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, which often doesn’t show symptoms early on, yet can cause long-term damage. Rapid urbanization in these countries is a major factor – migration from rural to urban areas is associated with increased blood pressure. Healthcare services in these growing cities are struggling, and are swamped with the ongoing challenges like infectious diseases.
We are looking to improve hypertension management, especially in urban areas by creating effective, scalable healthcare delivery models that integrate new technologies. That’s why I’m so excited about projects like the Community-based Hypertension Improvement Project (ComHIP) in Ghana. Launched in late 2015, it’s a three-year program designed to evaluate the impact of an innovative healthcare model on hypertension management and control. The goal is to improve the control of hypertension by making services more accessible in the community while empowering individuals to manage their disease with the help of digital tools.
We used the occasion of World Hypertension Day, on May 17, to launch another exciting hypertension program, this time in Vietnam. Called the Communities for Healthy Hearts Program, it is designed to improve the health of adults with high blood pressure living in low-income households in four districts in Ho Chi Minh City. The goal of both the Ghana and Vietnam programs are the same: make high blood pressure prevention and control easy at the community level – for both health workers and patients – thus improving outcomes.
As we move into NCDs, we certainly won’t be backing off any of our commitments in the fight against infectious diseases. For example, we are still fully committed to the fight against malaria. On April 25, World Malaria Day, we highlighted our continuing efforts to find ways to move further down the path to elimination by interrupting disease transmission.
2016 also marks the 30th anniversary of our work in leprosy, and we used World Leprosy Day on January 31 to renew our efforts to put leprosy back on the global health agenda, and to work with partners to try to end this disease once and for all. You can read more about what we did elsewhere in this edition of the newsletter.
Speaking of the newsletter, you’ll have noticed by now that it has an entirely new look. The fresh design gives our content new power – our work is about helping people, so we want to show you the difference we are making, not just tell you. We’ll be able to do that with more pictures, videos and infographics. At the same time, you’ll notice tighter links to our social media channels. That’s because we don’t just want to send you our news, but rather provoke thought, start conversations and open dialogue. So don’t hold back – let us know what you think and join the discussion!
To find out more about the work we do, visit our website.
The Novartis Foundation around the world: World Leprosy Day
Being part of the global Novartis network means that our colleagues around the world can engage with our important milestone moments. In January, our colleagues in the Philippines marked World Leprosy Day by holding ‘The Last Mile Walk’, and our work in leprosy was also recognized by the Philippine Department of Health.
On World Leprosy Day 2016, the Philippine Department of Health awarded the Novartis Foundation with a Plaque of Commendation for “Providing a venue to shape policy discussions on leprosy elimination in the Philippines”.
As part of marking the World Leprosy Day, Novartis associates in the Philippines took part in a ‘Last Mile Walk’ to promote our work in the fight against leprosy.
International and local triathletes committed their support for the last mile to eliminate leprosy.
The Leprosy Alert and Response Network System (LEARNS) assists healthcare providers treating suspected leprosy patients with support through telemedicine, and was highlighted on the evening news.
Photos from our projects: ComHIP
There are an estimated 9.4 million deaths from high blood pressure globally each year, as many as those of all infectious diseases combined. The majority of this mortality occurs in low- and middle-income countries, where people present with hypertension at a younger age, and experience worse outcomes than in high-income countries. The Community-based Hypertension Improvement Project (ComHIP) aims to improve the control of high blood pressure in Ghana by making services more accessible in the community while empowering individuals to manage their hypertension. Read more about the project here.
ComHIP allows patients to access healthcare for hypertension closer to home; away from crowded and far-away hospitals, right in the heart of their own communities.
Gideon is a high school teacher from the Eastern region of Ghana. Six years ago, he was diagnosed with hypertension.
With a family history of high blood pressure that puts him at increased risk of suffering from heart attacks and strokes, Gideon could not afford to miss vital check-ups.
Through ComHIP patients like Gideon can now manage their condition closer to home, rather than take time-consuming trips to the health facilities.