For KES. 200.00, patients in 15 health facilities in Nakuru County will walk away with a month’s worth of medicines for treatment and control of hypertension.
The package, which would otherwise cost thousands of shillings, comes courtesy of Healthy Heart Africa (HHA), an innovative Programme of AstraZeneca plc; an Anglo-Swedish Bio-Pharmaceutical multinational company based in Cambridge, England.
The aim of HHA programme, which is committed to tackling hypertension and the increasing burden of disease across Africa, is to reach 10 million patients across Sub Saharan Africa by the year 2025. To achieve this goal, the programme will work towards strengthening the local health systems by increasing awareness of symptoms and risks associated with the disease, offering education, screening, as well as treatment and control at highly subsidized rates.
In Kenya, and particularly Nakuru County, the programme will be implemented by Amref Health Africa in Kenya. During a presentation of the upcoming project to the County Health management Team at Emboita Hotel, Mountain View Nakuru, Dr. Lilian Mbau of Amref Health Africa in Kenya said that the project will screen 670,000 and offer treatment for hypertension to at least 18,000 patients.
The 3-year programme (August 2017 – July 2020), she said, will be based in 15 high turnover health facilities of the county; in which her team, together with the County’s Department of Health will conduct various activities towards achieving outlined set objectives.
These, she said, includes increasing awareness of, and screening for hypertension; education on risk factors; improving linkage to treatment, retention and blood pressure control; improving access to hypertension medication, and improvement of data management for hypertension.
On awareness and screening, she said, strategies involves integration of hypertension services during routine visits by Community Health Volunteers to homesteads; provider initiated and intensified screening; walkways hypertension screening and workplace hypertension screening.
During the expansion phase of the project, said Dr. Mbau, capacity building of both health workers and Community Health Volunteers would be done through on-site Continuous Medical Education, on-the-job training, and supervisory support visits.
Besides, patient monitoring for risk factors; adherence counseling, and psychological support shall be done alongside tracking of appointments and blood pressure control. Further, improvement of hypertension data management shall be done by the use of standardized patient record tools; use of a mobile platform (Mjali) for data collection and patient tracking and also the monitoring of critical reporting indicators of Blood Pressure Control and Retention.
Finally, said Dr. Mbau, increase of access to hypertension medicine will be critical; and will be done through the County Department of Health and Specific health facilities to facilitate high quality medicine at very affordable rates.
Briefing the County Health Managers in the same forum, Ambrose Mutua of AstraZeneca, said that the medicine slated for the project would be procured through MEDS and KEMSA, and for a 30-day dosage, this would cost only KES 200.00 a patient. Compared to the market, this is a highly subsidized rate of which AstraZeneca would absorb the rest of the cost.
Speaking during meeting, the Program Director, Dr. Margaret Mungai, noted that Hypertension is a lethal silent killer… people walk around thinking they are normal only to be discovered too late. However, with appropriate interventions, she said, hypertension can be managed and controlled to the extent that people living with the condition live almost normal lives.
Besides the various strategies in place for achieving the objectives, said Dr. Mungai, the project will seek to form support groups in health facilities and communities.
Speaking during the forum, County Director of Administration and Planning, Dr. Benedict Osore, noted that hypertension was a major national concern, where one survey conducted in the country shows that almost 1 in 4 Kenyans having an abnormally elevated blood pressure.
Previously, he said, hypertension, one of the major non-communicable diseases affecting the country was regarded as “disease of the affluent” yet it ravages all communities with an almost equally measure. The HHA programme had therefore come as an opportunity to avail reach a majority of Kenyans who also suffer from some of these non communicable diseases.
During implementation, noted Dr. Osore, it is important that the partner comes up with a modality of unifying management to reflect and synchronize what the data collected in the field to that which is in the National District Health Information System (DHIS).
Considering that many activities would be carried out deep inside the communities, Dr. Osore urged that both partner and the county government formulate a modality that will not only address the affordability of medicines but also the long term sustainability of the Community Health Volunteers.
Non Communicable Diseases which are rarely given the attention they deserve, said Dr. Osore, especially hypertension, is a time bomb ticking away and everyone must do everything in the capacity to have this condition brought under control. The entry of HHA therefore; together with other partners, was most welcome in the county.
The Director of Medical Services, Dr. Solomon Sirma, said that hypertension was not only real but also a devastating scourge that’s been given inadequate attention in the past. With HHA, he said, Nakuru County would soon know where it stands in regard to the numbers of cases found.
Noting that the Non Communicable diseases are predicted to overtake Communicable Diseases by the year 2050, Dr. Sirma lauded the entry of combined efforts in tackling the rising menace. By assisting and working with the Community Health Volunteers, HHA’s intervention was a measure in the right direction, particularly in Nakuru.
The Deputy Director of Medical Services, in whose docket lies Non Communicable Diseases and who moderated the entire session, said that his office would do everything in its capacity to make the project work in the county.
Written by Francis Gitahi Njenga, Nakuru Health Digest.