Abdul Mannan Chowdhury, a 59-year-old local trader of Sylhet district of Bangladesh, was diagnosed with hypertension a few years ago. But it was only 18 months ago, that he was put on a regular treatment and medication that has helped him keep his blood pressure under control. Every month he travels more than two hours to the nearest Upazila Health Complex (UHC) for follow-up treatment and collects his free monthly medicine. He receives calls from the UHC in case he misses his monthly visit. Abdul acknowledges that it would be quite difficult for him to continue the treatment if he had to pay for these medicines. Abdul and thousands of registered patients are now reporting controlled blood pressure during their most recent visits across 54 UHCs in Sylhet districts.

Hypertension is one of the three major causes of death and disability in Bangladesh. One in every five adults (21%) in Bangladesh suffers from hypertension.

The Global Health Advocacy Incubator’s (GHAI) hypertension control program has been making significant strides to reduce the prevalence of this disease by ensuring treatment and anti-hypertensive medicines for the people at the grassroots level, where it is most needed. Since 2021, GHAI has collaborated with experts, civil society organizations and media to increase awareness about hypertension and to create a conducive environment to make it a priority for the government and public to take action.

GHAI along with its partner, the National Heart Foundation of Bangladesh (NHFB), has been advocating with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (Health Services Division and the Directorate General of Health Services) to prioritize increased funding for a continuous supply of anti-hypertensive drugs at UHCs and to ensure availability of these drugs at community clinics.

GHAI and its nonprofit partner PROGGA, are sensitizing journalists at the national and subnational level for sustained and informed media coverage. The need for regular monitoring of hypertension, healthy diet and timely medication is continuously being highlighted through news reports in leading newspapers and TV channels. Tips and advice from doctors and experts are being amplified through popular media channels including social media.

GHAI’s efforts have been strengthening the Bangladesh Hypertension Control Initiative (BHCI) which is a collaboration between the government and Resolve to Save Lives. Under the BHCI in the Sylhet district, more than 1 million adults being screened at 54 UHCs, with over 147,000 adults registered as hypertensive patients. 52% of the registered patients' blood pressure was found to be under control during their most recent visit. Anti-hypertensive medicines are being included in the existing drug list at community clinics and free hypertension medicines are provided by the government in the 54 UHCs and 8 community clinics in this district. All partners are collaborating to ensure that Abdul and many others like him who forgo a day’s wage to travel to their nearest UHC to receive treatment and medicines, do not return empty handed due to shortage of medicines.

HTN Health worker Bangladesh
Health worker measuring blood pressure of a patient on digital machine at UHC in Sylhet

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