Members of Amref and Healthy Heart Africa join the world in marking World Hypertension Day on May 17th. One in four Kenyans has HBP, while 92% are not on medication. Photo / Courtesy

Every year, the world marks World Hypertension Day on May 17th. The event brings together practitioners in the health sector who organize campaigns against hypertension (High Blood Pressure) and increase its awareness.

For over 100 years, the fight against cardiovascular diseases has been ongoing. Various boundaries of science have also been pushed to further the reduction of cardiovascular morbidity.

During this year’s World Hypertension Day, AstraZeneca, a global non-governmental biopharmaceutical organization that primarily deals with the treatment of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, committed to address the hypertension burden in Africa, where less than 10% of the 80 million patients have access to treatment.

The fight aims at reducing the burden of medication and prevention of cardiovascular related deaths with the goal of reaching 10 million patients across sub-Saharan Africa by 2025.

AstraZeneca, in its recent survey conducted in Nairobi, indicates that only 20 percent of people are aware of their hypertensive status and that only about 20 percent of them had sought medical treatment.

However, AstraZaneca Middle East and Africa President, Tarek Rabah, shines a ray of hope to victims of high blood pressure saying the disease is treatable. “The prevalence of hypertension in Africa is the highest in the world, yet it is preventable,” since it is relatively easy to diagnose and treatable.

Since AstraZeneca launched the Healthy Heart Africa’s programme in Kenya in October 2014, the organization has collaborated with the Ministry of Health and developed a hypertension treatment protocol, which sees provision of needed screening machines and treatment facilities.

“With Healthy Heart Africa, we aim to strengthen healthcare capabilities to provide life-long care for patients living with hypertension,” he said.

High Blood Pressure has in the past been affecting people aged 45 and above, but the trend is changing as babies and teenagers are steadily falling victims. This is due to modernisation of eating habits and excessive consumption of sugary and junk food products as well as smoking.

“Through our unwavering efforts with our partners including the government, we are working to improve education, raise awareness and increase access to treatment,” said Mr Rabah, adding that they have developed ‘the right model to address the world’s largest silent killer –Hypertension.’

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