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Undiagnosed hypertension worries health experts

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Health experts have expressed concern over the growing burden of undiagnosed and untreated hypertension in people living with HIV.

This is contained in a policy brief the experts released in Lilongwe on Tuesday.

“In Malawi 32 per cent of adult population have been found to be hypertensive, 94 per cent of these patients are unaware and, therefore, untreated. In a small HIV-infected cohort in Blantyre, 46 per cent of patients were found to have elevated blood pressure.

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The lack of well-organised and funded national hypertension screening and treatment programme leaves hypertension in patients poorly managed,” reads the brief.

One of the experts Dr Damson Kathyola, further explained how big the problem will become in Africa in the next 10 years.

“Africa is facing a growing double burden of Communicable and Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). It is projected that by 2025, nearly three-quarters of people living with hypertension will be living in developing countries. Hypertension is expected to lead to more deaths in Africa than infectious diseases in the next 20-30 years,” Kathyola said.

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At the dissemination of policy brief on improving screening and Treatment of Hypertension in People Living with HIV, there was also the official launch of Malawi Knowledge Translation Platform (KTP).

Chief of Health Services, Char l es Mwansambo, who also highlighted the extent of hypertension in the country, hailed the production of policy briefs.

“It is to the advantage of the Malawi health sector to have one of the remarkable deliveries by KTP in terms of this policy brief since it will help in providing policy options that are feasible, cost effective and backed by research evidence. Production of the briefs will also help the ministry to save a lot of resources since the policies and suggestions that will be included in the decision making will be evidence-based,” Mwansambo said.

Mwansambo also said through KTP initiatives, he believed the gap between researchers and policymakers will be reduced.

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