Novartis Foundation and partners launch new hypertension program in Ghana

NovartisThe 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.

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.[1]

"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.

"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.[2]

Deaths from hypertension are estimated at 9.4 million people annually globally, which is equivalent to all infectious diseases combined.[3] More than a quarter of the adult population in Ghana has hypertension[4], but only 4% of these patients have their blood pressure under control.[5]

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.

About the Novartis Foundation
The Novartis Foundation is a philanthropic organization pioneering innovative healthcare models that can have a transformational impact on the health of the poorest populations. We work hand-in-hand with our local and global partners to catalyze scalable and sustainable healthcare models to improve access and health outcomes, and to accelerate efforts to eliminate leprosy and malaria by focusing on interventions that aim to interrupt transmission. Everything we do is grounded in evidence and innovation, and our work is a continuous cycle of evaluation, adaptation and application. In 2014, the operational budget for the foundation was CHF 12 million and our programs reached 3.6 million people.

About Novartis
Novartis provides innovative healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and societies. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis offers a diversified portfolio to best meet these needs: innovative medicines, eye care and cost-saving generic pharmaceuticals. Novartis is the only global company with leading positions in these areas. In 2014, the Group achieved net sales of USD 58.0 billion, while R&D throughout the Group amounted to approximately USD 9.9 billion (USD 9.6 billion excluding impairment and amortization charges). Novartis Group companies employ approximately 120,000 full-time-equivalent associates. Novartis products are available in more than 180 countries around the world.

1. World Health Organization. Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) fact sheet. 2015 http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs317/en/#
2. World Health Organization. Global status report on non-communicable diseases, 2014.
3. Angell, Sonia Y.; Decock, Kevin M.; Frieden, Thomas R. A public health approach to global management of hypertension. The Lancet, 2015, 385.9970: 825-827. Lim, Stephen S., et al. A comparative risk assessment of burden of disease and injury attributable to 67 risk factors and risk factor clusters in 21 regions, 1990-2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. The lancet, 2013, 380.9859: 2224-2260.
4. World Health Organization, Non-communicable Diseases (NCD) Country Profiles: Ghana. Available at: http://www.who.int/nmh/countries/gha_en.pdf?ua=1. Last accessed May 2015.
5. Lloyd-Sherlock, Peter, et al. Hypertension among older adults in low-and middle-income countries: prevalence, awareness and control. International journal of epidemiology, 2014, 43.1: 116-128.

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