Better Hearts Better Cities in Action - First partners meeting shows that everyone is pulling in the same direction
Apr 24, 2018
Recently, the Novartis Foundation convened in Amsterdam (Netherlands) more than 40 representatives from different partner organizations working on the Better Hearts Better Cities initiative. This first face-to-face workshop was a critical milestone in the program to help ensure full alignment on objectives, ways of working and future roadmap of the urban health initiative. The Novartis Foundation selected three cities for the Better Hearts Better Cities initiative because of their high unmet need in hypertension (high blood pressure): Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia, Sao Paulo in Brazil, and Dakar in Senegal.
The meeting participants represented the global partner organizations American Heart Association, Business Performance Institute and CDC Foundation, the local implementation partners of the three cities Onom Foundation (Ulanbataar), IntraHealth and PATH (Dakar) as well as Instituto Tellus (Sao Paulo) and the local evaluation partners CRDH, MPHPA and Move Social.
Better Hearts Better Cities aims at transforming health systems by convening a collective of local and global 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.
Ann Aerts, Head Novartis Foundation shared her excitement about the importance of a multisector approach powered by digital technologies to make major transformations in the healthcare systems. “We need to innovate the way healthcare is delivered. Digital technology is an enabler to improve access to and quality healthcare. In addition, to tackle the big challenges, we need to get partners from different sectors and disciplines involved and aligned. Only co-creation with multisector partners will allow us to address the high unmet cardiovascular health needs in the three Better Hearts Better Cities locations and beyond”, she said.
High blood pressure is often called a “silent killer” because it has no obvious symptoms, but dramatically increases the risk of stroke or heart attack. Many people live with high blood pressure without knowing it. Even among people who have been diagnosed, treatment adherence remains extremely low. Additionally, changing lifestyles increasingly characterized by unhealthy diet, reduced physical activity, stress, excessive alcohol and tobacco consumption increase the risk of developing high blood pressure.
During the two days, the meeting participants presented successes and challenges from their three cities. They shared examples and best practices. They discussed measurement framework, governance, communication and the future of the initiative.
The Onom Foundation team laid out their ultimate goal: to increase hypertension control from currently 7% to 50%. Their multi-faceted approach includes screening, health workers training in hospitals and pharmacies as well as a website and mobile app for hypertensive patients.
The IntraHealth and PATH teams explained the importance of the strong commitment by the Minister of Health resulting in the launch of a national awareness campaign against chronic diseases and a first awareness and screening campaign on hypertension where 493 people were tested in . Physicians and nurses from the first pilot district West have been trained and patients screening started across all primary care clinics in the area.
The Instituto Tellus is the last addition to the team. Activities in São Paulo are just starting and the team presented their proven design methodology. This approach focuses on the user and the community to understand and analyze citizen needs and co-create local solutions in a bottom-up approach. Preparation of prototyping and implementation is currently ongoing in the East Zone of São Paulo.
From various working groups emerged common themes like evidence-based measurement, common journey, communication, promotion of healthy life styles and people-centeredness. The meeting closed with a clear way forward and a defined set of actions and next steps, such as the setup of a global/local communications team for the program.
Roberta Bosurgi, Head of Urban Health Initiative is extremely pleased with the outcome of the meeting. “The energy in the room was excellent. All participants brought great passion and outstanding commitment to the table. Better Hearts Better Cities is a collective initiative who needs all multidisciplinary partners actively on board. The role of the Novartis Foundation is to bring people together to create impact on the three cities. I am confident that with the network of great professionals we can make ‘our’ cities healthier by fighting hypertension. Together we can drive impact beyond the initiative and make our new ways of working replicable around the world,” she said.
Better Hearts Better Cities is planning to cover one million people this year
Already in the first full year of operations Better Hearts Better Cities is planning to cover one million people across the three cities and three continents. Through its focus on hypertension, Better Hearts Better Cities aspires to reimagine the way chronic diseases can be prevented and managed. The ultimate goal of the program is to identify a scalable approach that is sustainable and replicable in other cities and for other chronic diseases.
About Better Hearts Better Cities
Better Hearts Better Cities is a Novartis Foundation initiative to improve cardiovascular health in low-income urban populations. Better Hearts Better Cities seeks to achieve this through a multisector approach addressing hypertension and its underlying risk factors in a sustainable way at scale.