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ACHIEVE Conference Targets Hypertension in Africa

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By Allison Kozicharow; Edited by Elizabeth Fine

In an article just published in the Lancet, the Accelerating African Control of Hypertension through Innovative Epidemiology and a Vibrant Ecosystem (ACHIEVE) reported that hypertension is a leading cause of premature death in Africa, with the highest global rate of 54%.

In an ACHIEVE conference last year, experts on hypertension met to address the threat to Africans and to discuss how to ensure that the illness is detected, diagnosed and treated.

WiRED International’s community health workers (CHWs) regularly screen for hypertension in their communities — where people have little or no access to formal health systems or to medical professionals. In fact, our CHWs have been screening thousands of people for years. Hypertension usually presents no symptoms. That is why screening is so vital.

In response to the ACHIEVE report, WiRED’s CHW team in Kisumu, Kenya, will expand the regular hypertension program. They will hold special weekly workshops that review the description, prevention, detection and treatment of hypertension using our modules. Further, our CHWs will hold screening sessions in primary schools amid increasing concerns of hypertension among students in Africa.

ACHIEVE called out 12 priorities for tackling hypertension in Africa. WiRED’s CHW training covers many of the proposed actions. As trusted go-to health sources, CHWs are in the best position to inform their communities about the risks and dangers of hypertension as they conduct screenings, monitor treatment and provide referrals. Also, they will continue to provide weekly checkups for people with moderate or high blood pressure.

WiRED will continue to report on our efforts to combat hypertension as we enlarge our CHW programs on hypertension in Kenya and other countries in the future.

What is hypertension?

Hypertension or high blood pressure is a serious condition that can lead to the following health problems:

  • Coronary heart/artery disease
  • Heart failure
  • Stroke
  • Kidney failure
  • Vision changes, even blindness, among other health problems

WiRED’s module on hypertension defines the condition, its causes, diagnosis and treatment. Our module on gestational hypertension (pregnancy-induced hypertension) addresses hypertension in pregnancy, which can affect the mother’s and the baby’s health.