AFRICA—AstraZeneca is broadening its scope to address a wider range of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including chronic kidney disease (CKD), hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. 

Through its flagship initiative, Healthy Heart Africa, it  aims to reach more patients across the continent, as announced at the 77th World Health Assembly (WHA) during an event co-hosted with the Ministry of Health for Uganda. 

The program , which will  launch in Egypt, will be operational in several African countries by the end of 2025, including Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, and Uganda.

Established in 2014, Healthy Heart Africa initially focused on addressing the growing burden of cardiovascular diseases in Africa. 

Its objectives include increasing awareness of hypertension symptoms and risks, providing health education, facilitating early screening and treatment, and delivering training to healthcare providers. 

The program has made significant strides in its mission by conducting over 54 million blood pressure screenings and training more than 11,400 healthcare workers over the past decade. 

By March 2024, it had already achieved its target of reaching 10 million people with elevated blood pressure, almost two years ahead of schedule.

HE Dr Jean Ruth Aceng Ocero, Uganda’s Minister of Health, stressed the importance of strengthening health systems to confront the rising burden of NCDs, which currently account for 36% of deaths and 81,300 annual mortalities. 

She emphasized the need for early detection and effective management to combat the 21% probability of premature mortality from NCDs.

Dr Jean Kaseya, Director-General of the Africa Centres for Disease Control, echoed these concerns, highlighting the urgent need for comprehensive action to address the increasing prevalence of NCDs in Africa. 

He emphasized integrating NCD prevention and control into primary healthcare and strengthening multisectoral coordination.

Ruud Dobber, Executive Vice President of AstraZeneca’s BioPharmaceuticals Business Unit, emphasized the necessity of collaboration between the public and private sectors to effectively tackle the escalating burden of NCDs. 

He underscored the interconnectedness of heart and kidney health and the opportunity for earlier diagnosis and intervention to prevent life-threatening complications.

Egypt’s Minister of Health and Population, HE Dr Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, emphasized the urgency of adapting health systems to deal with the links between climate change and NCDs like heart and kidney disease. 

He expressed pride in Egypt’s commitment to joining the Healthy Heart Africa program and outlined plans to improve CKD awareness, enhance early screening and diagnosis, and support healthcare professional training.

At the event, global leaders in NCD care, including ministers of health from Uganda, Ethiopia, and Egypt, along with representatives from organizations such as the Africa CDC and the World Health Organization, reaffirmed their commitment to addressing the growing burden of NCDs in Africa. 

AstraZeneca reinforced its dedication to achieving Healthy Heart Africa’s goals through public-private partnerships by signing Memorandums of Understanding with the Ministries of Health from Egypt, Uganda, and Ghana. 

The program aligns with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3.4, which aims to reduce premature mortality from NCDs by one-third through prevention and treatment by 2030.

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