Fighting Ghana’s Biggest Health Challenges

A nurse checking the BP of a patient

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is the leading risk factor for death and disability globally.

The situation, initially known to be ‘predominant’ in developed countries, is becoming increasingly prevalent in lower middle income countries, including those within the West African sub-region.

Ghana is, indeed, no exception to this public health threat. It currently records a significant increase in the prevalence of the disease with about a quarter of the population suffering from hypertension.

The ‘silent killer’ remains unknown to majority of the population, especially those affected. Effective control of hypertension continues to be fought with access and adherence to available treatment.

Amidst these challenges, the Novartis Foundation, with Ann Aerts as its head, believes simple and affordable steps to integrate routine blood pressure checks into the community, using chemists and other allied health professionals in partnership with existing healthcare settings, could play a major role.

“This is innovative,” Prof Peter Piot, Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, explained.

Ann Aerts and Prof Piot both spoke to Kobby Blay of at the ‘Talking NCDs’ health dialogue organised by the Novartis Foundation and Novartis Access in Basel, Switzerland.

The event brought together global health leaders to discuss how to improve care for chronic patients in lower income countries. It focused on the Novartis Foundation’s telemedicine and the community-based hypertension improvement project (ComHIP) – challenges and successes achieved so far since its implementation, together with the health authorities in Ghana and its other partners.