Domdasse Adama could barely walk, with his left side paralysed and reliant on a cane. “But thanks to the support and treatment I received for hypertension, I can now walk on my own, and even ride a bicycle for several kilometres,” he says.
Adama’s journey to recovery from impaired mobility due to hypertension was far from easy. In the bustling town of Gana in central Burkina Faso, where medical resources were limited, his struggle to receive timely and effective care was a common challenge.
In Burkina Faso, findings from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2021 Stepwise Approach to Surveillance – a tool through which countries can collect, analyse and disseminate core information on noncommunicable diseases – survey showed a prevalence of hypertension among 18- to 69-year-olds of 18.2%, up from 17.6% in 2013, underscoring the need for interventions.
Under an initiative to increase access to health services for chronic diseases, Burkina Faso, with support from WHO and the Danish government, care services for noncommunicable diseases is now being made available at district health facilities thanks to decentralization of these services from tertiary hospitals.
In Kombissiri district in central Burkina Faso, one of the regions where services for chronic diseases are being decentralized, measures under the initiative included the development of screening modules, training to 10 doctors, 90 health workers and 150 community health workers. This improved access to care by enhancing screening and building health care capacity, in accordance with the project’s goals.
“This project has certainly transformed the lives of patients like Adama, but its benefits extend much more broadly, fundamentally strengthening the entire health care system,” says Dr Luc Minoungou, chief medical officer of the Kombissiri district in central Burkina Faso.
He adds that WHO’s Package of Essential Noncommunicable Disease Interventions (WHO PEN), which sets a minimum standard for the management of chronic diseases, has also strengthened primary health care in the district.
Henriette Loue, head nurse at Gana’s Centre for Health and Social Advancement, says the initiative not only enhanced screening capacity and boosted staff knowledge about hypertension, but it also delivered essential medical equipment, including blood pressure monitors and glucometers for managing noncommunicable diseases.
Dr Prebo Barango, acting team lead for the noncommunicable diseases programme at WHO Africa’s Regional Office, agrees: “The partnership between WHO and the Danish government has played a crucial role in equipping health care providers with the necessary skills and tools to effectively manage hypertension, so improving well-being and reducing the disease burden.”
WHO PEN is now complemented by the PEN-Plus strategy, designed to strengthen the management and care of chronic and severe noncommunicable diseases at district hospitals. It capacitates health care workers to deliver care for groups of related conditions, in recognition of the key role that accessible health care services have in combating the rising burden of chronic diseases.
As the Burkina Faso project evolves, its impact is helping individuals take charge of their own health. Adama’s return to good health is a testament to the life-changing potential of accessible health care where and when it is needed, and the capacity for making a real difference, even in low-resource settings.
“Now, thanks to the care I received, I have hope. I can enjoy simple pleasures like walking, cycling and spending time with my family, without the constant worry of my health holding me back. I’m grateful for the chance to take charge of my own health,” he says.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Health Organization (WHO) – Burkina Faso.