The African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET) led consortium, with support from the LINKS grants program, commenced the scale-up of the Community Action Against Non-Communicable Diseases (COMAAND) project in Anambra state, Nigeria with a stakeholders’ meeting held on the 24th of January 2020. COMAAND is a local initiative using community-based strategies to address hypertension as a gateway to combat the growing burden of Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Nigeria. COMAAND is aimed at raising awareness about high blood pressure, training community members and health care workers on blood pressure screening and care and securing lifesaving anti-hypertensive medications. The LINKS program is funded by Resolve to Save Lives (RTSL), an initiative of Vital Strategies.

Group photo: Participants of the COMAAND stakeholders’ meeting held in Awka, Anambra state on 24th January 2020.

The advocacy meeting was aimed at sensitizing and mobilizing stakeholders in the state to buy-in and enable widespread support of the COMAAND project in Anambra state. In attendance were representatives from the state government, traditional rulers from the three project implementation sites, community leaders, health workers, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and academia. Representatives of the Anambra state government included the Hon. Commissioner for Health, the Hon. Commissioner for Education, the Permanent Secretary of Anambra State Ministry of Health and Directors from the Anambra State Ministry of Health.

The traditional rulers present were; His Royal Highness (HRH) Igwe Okpalaezecha of Akpo Community, representatives of HRH Professor Igwe Sir Charles Anikweze of Awkuzu and HRH Igwe Ezekwesili of Awba Ofemili, among others.
The meeting featured goodwill messages, presentations on the COMAAND project, brainstorming as well as question and answer sessions.

Dr. Patrick Nguku, the AFENET Regional Technical Coordinator (Anglophone West Africa), in a video recorded goodwill message expressed optimism on the success of the project. “The main goal of AFENET is to build field epidemiology for both infectious and non-infectious diseases. The reason is that field epidemiology is about investigating, finding and providing evidence for public health action. AFENET will continue building the capacity of health workers, to better detect and have better tools for the management of cardiovascular diseases. I am convinced that we will create more awareness, we will detect more people with high blood pressure and connect them with the appropriate care and we hope to control high blood pressure amongst people who are hypertensive”.

In his remarks, the Hon Commissioner for Health, Dr. Vincent Okpala, assured AFENET of Anambra state government’s support for COMAAND and his personal interest in addressing the health threat posed by NCDs.

Various stakeholders expressed their support for the COMAAND project and also made suggestions on possible operational approaches to ensure the project efficiently meets its objectives.