AWARDED BY RESOLVE TO SAVE LIVES and implemented in partnership with University of Abuja’s Centre of Circulatory Health AND Society for Public Health and Social Development

The African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET) has been awarded a highly competitive, two-year LINKS grant to address the burden of hypertension in Anambra state, Nigeria. The AFENET led consortium will scale up the Community Action Against Non-Communicable Disease (COMAAND) project, raising awareness about high blood pressure, training community members and health care workers on blood pressure screening and care, and securing lifesaving blood pressure medications. The grant program, part of the LINKS platform that connects people working to improve cardiovascular health around the world, is funded by Resolve to Save Lives (RTSL), an initiative of Vital Strategies, and managed by RTSL along with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through the CDC Foundation. See Official Press Release

With support from LINKS, AFENET and partners will scale up the Community Action Against Non-Communicable Disease (COMAAND) project, a local initiative using community-based strategies to address hypertension and reduce non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Nigeria. The expanded project in Anambra, Nigeria will include raising public awareness about high blood pressure, training community members and health care workers on hypertension screening and care and securing essential hypertension medications.

“It is a failure on the health care system if a hypertensive person is unaware of his or her increased blood pressure (BP) and its consequences. BP screening is an entry point to prevention and control of non-communicable diseases. As field epidemiologists, we are excited to improve community-level screening of hypertension and linkage to care”, said Dr. Patrick Nguku, AFENET Regional Technical  Coordinator, and Senior Resident Advisor, Nigeria Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (NFELTP), on the COMAAND Project.

“As a cardiologist practicing in Nigeria, I have been very frustrated by the fact that many hypertensive patients present at various advanced stages with many complications,” said Professor Augustine Odili of the Circulatory Health Research Laboratory, University of Abuja/AFENET. “The LINKS grant will surely change the narrative of hypertension and its complications in my community by strengthening the technical capacity and resources for hypertension prevention and control at the community and primary health care levels.”

High blood pressure causes heart attack and stroke and is the leading cause of death worldwide. A recent analysis concluded that increasing global control of high blood pressure could save almost 40 million lives in 25 years. “Cardiovascular disease kills more people each year than all infectious diseases combined, but it remains neglected by many health systems and the global health community,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives. “LINKS is connecting champions on the front lines of work in low- and middle-income countries and sharing lessons and resources to accelerate progress.”

AFENET is a field epidemiology training institution that supports ministries of health to strengthen public health programs across Africa, including Nigeria.

AFENET will implement the expansion with two partners from the pilot phase of the COMAAND project: University of Abuja’s Centre of Circulatory Health, which specializes in research, training and policy formulation aimed at reducing the burden of noncommunicable diseases, and the Society for Public Health and Social Development, a Nigerian public health NGO.