Novartis Foundation and partners launch new hypertension program in Ghana

The Novartis Foundation and its partners have begun screening patients in the Community-based Hypertension Improvement Project (ComHIP), a two-year program designed to evaluate the impact of an innovative healthcare model on hypertension management and control in Ghana.

Novartis says that with the innovative healthcare model, the Novartis Foundation and its partners aim to improve the control of hypertension, a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, by making services more accessible in the community while empowering individuals to manage their hypertension. More than three quarters of deaths from cardiovascular disease take place in low- and middle-income countries.

“We’ve taken lessons from previous work in infectious disease to create ComHIP, a unique healthcare model that joins together public-private partnerships, community-based healthcare services and technology that supports healthcare workers and drives patient education,” said Peter Lamptey, President Emeritus, FHI 360 and Professor of Non-communicable Diseases, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

“We want to empower the whole community from patients to healthcare workers to local businesses to reduce the burden of hypertension, and – hopefully – to improve the healthcare system overall.”

Carried out in a district close to an urban center in Ghana, ComHIP will shift the point where patients access healthcare from the hospital, which is often distant and crowded, to the community. Local businesses and healthcare workers based in the community will be trained to screen and care for hypertensive patients. Mobile devices and telemedicine will be used to support community nurses in decision making and ensuring seamless connection with community healthcare workers and physicians as needed. In addition, SMS / voice messaging will be used for patient education to reduce risk factors for cardiovascular disease and to support adherence to therapy, said the company.

“We are really excited to see ComHIP gain momentum and I am confident the results of the program will help inform policy that improves hypertension care in Ghana at a national level,” said Ann Aerts, Head of the Novartis Foundation.

“In addition, the Novartis Foundation’s goal extends beyond Ghana and hypertension. We seek to build evidence on what type of healthcare delivery models and technologies are effective, and then adapt and apply them to help manage the overall dual burden of infectious and non-communicable diseases that low- and middle-income countries are facing.”

Low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are still coping with infectious diseases and maternal and child health issues, while at the same time, the burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer has risen dramatically. Almost 70% of all deaths globally are associated with NCDs and four out of five of these deaths occur in LMICs.

Deaths from hypertension are estimated at 9.4 million people annually globally, which is equivalent to all infectious diseases combined. More than a quarter of the adult population in Ghana has hypertension, but only 4% of these patients have their blood pressure under control.

The company added that the Novartis Foundation is collaborating on ComHIP with FHI 360, the Ghana Health Service, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Centre for Global NCDs, VOTO Mobile, the School of Public Health at the University of Ghana and many local partners in Ghana.

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