On World Hypertension Day, the Novartis Foundation recognizes the importance of keeping people and patients at the heart of our work to combat hypertension. With more than 10 million people estimated to die from hypertension globally every year, and the highest burden of the disease occurring in low- and middle-income countries, the Novartis Foundation is addressing this challenge with high priority.
“We see too many people suffering and dying as a result of hypertension despite the fact it can be managed effectively,” said Ann Aerts, Head of the Novartis Foundation. “We are working with our partners to improving the detection, management and care of this disease in low-income communities.”
“To have real and lasting impact on reducing the high burden of hypertension, we have to create a local environment that enhances the health of the individual,” continued Ann Aerts. “For example, bringing healthcare closer to communities, empowering both healthcare workers and patients to manage their own health, and creating a healthier environment overall.”
For many years already, the Novartis Foundation has been working with partners across the public and private sectors at a global and local level to create tailored, holistic, person-centered solutions for each community in which it works. In 2017, all Novartis Foundation programs reached 7 million people worldwide.
The Community-based Hypertension Improvement Project (ComHIP)
The Novartis Foundation and its partners in Ghana have been evaluating the impact of an innovative healthcare model on hypertension control and self-management in a peri-urban area of Ghana. Local businesses and healthcare workers based in the community are trained to screen and care for hypertensive patients. In addition, digital technology is used to support health care workers in decision-making, ensuring seamless connection between screening points, community health workers and physicians at the referral sites. The digital health tool also empowers patients to manage their own progress and sends them reminders for their follow-up appointments.
Forthcoming end line results from ComHIP are expected to provide key evidence on community-based approaches to help improve the healthcare systems and the way care is delivered, while providing valuable lessons to tackle other noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes.
Ho Chi Minh City Communities for Healthy Hearts Program
Communities for Healthy Hearts is a cutting-edge health care delivery model that engages health leaders, the community, the public health system, and the private sector in improving hypertension awareness, management, and control in Vietnam. The model is being piloted in four districts of Ho Chi Minh City which have a combined population of approximately two million people, including 700,000 people aged 40 years and above – and therefore at higher risk of hypertension.
The program has brought screening and referral services closer to home by working with community outreach volunteers, local businesses, and social enterprises to establish over 490 free checkpoints in non-traditional yet convenient locations, such as community leaders’ homes, local markets and tea shops. The approach seems to be working: between September 2016 and January 2018, 124,358 people aged 40 and above were screened for hypertension by Communities for Healthy Hearts volunteers. So far, nearly 55% of people with elevated blood pressure at screening (and almost 83% of those diagnosed) are now on treatment, much higher than the national rate of diagnosis and treatment (13%).
Communities for Healthy Hearts’ eHTN.Tracker, the first digital patient tracker for NCD management in Vietnam, enables health care workers at all levels to follow patients throughout their hypertension journey, and also links to an SMS reminder service that supports patients to adhere to treatment and live healthier lives.
Better Hearts Better Cities is a Novartis Foundation initiative to improve cardiovascular health in low-income urban communities by encouraging the adoption of healthier lifestyles and improving the control of hypertension as a key risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
To achieve its goals, Better Hearts Better Cities aims to build a network of partners, reaching beyond the health sector. Partners can include healthcare providers, but also digital and telecommunication organizations, food suppliers, employers, insurance funds, social enterprises and civil societies.
Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia, Dakar, Senegal and São Paulo, Brazil have been selected to be the first wave of cities, based on high unmet cardiovascular health needs and the strong commitment of local authorities to improve cardiovascular health. The initiative is up and running in the three pilot cities, in collaboration with multiple public and private sector partners, and with full ownership by the local governments.
This is the one year anniversary of Better Hearts Better Cities, which was launched on World Hypertension Day 2017. The progress is already very encouraging, as the initiative estimates that one million people will be covered by Better Hearts Better Cities by the third quarter of 2018.