The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called for stronger investment in order to tackle hypertension in Africa.
Development Diaries reports that an analysis by WHO shows that fewer than a third of people living with hypertension in Africa are on treatment, and only about 12 percent have the life-threatening condition under control.
The UN agency revealed that globally, around 21 percent of adults aged over 30 have hypertension under control, and 42 percent are taking medication for the condition.
It said hypertension is a major risk factor for stroke and heart attack, the cardiovascular diseases responsible for most deaths due to chronic illnesses in Africa.
In Africa, diagnosis, care and control of hypertension are constrained by low awareness about the condition, limited access to health services, overburdened health systems, health workforce challenges, lack of access to affordable medicines and non-compliance with drug regimens.
Rising obesity rates, unhealthy lifestyles, along with insufficient patient education compound the threat.
‘Tackling this serious health threat requires stronger investment to increase access to health services to detect and manage the condition, WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said in a statement.
‘It is also vital to further raise awareness about hypertension and promote measures to address its modifiable risk factors’.
Data from the health body reveals that Africa has the highest prevalence of hypertension at 27 percent.
It is understood that 27 countries have been supported by WHO through an approach known as WHO-PEN to decentralise the management of noncommunicable diseases, including hypertension, at primary health care level.
Services include screening and diagnosis, treatment, lifestyle modification, patient education and self-management.
Building on WHO-PEN, in 2022, African countries adopted a strategy known as PEN-Plus, an approach developed to reinforce the capacity of district hospitals and other first-level referral facilities for early diagnosis and subsequent management of severe noncommunicable diseases, including complicated hypertension, to lower deaths.
The PEN-Plus strategy, according to the global health body, has shown promising results in Liberia, Malawi and Rwanda, with a significant increase in the number of people accessing treatment for severe chronic diseases.
Photo source: WHO