A multi-country intervention trial conducted by the Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore, in partnership with the Aga Khan University (AKU) has revealed how a cost-effective strategy could help control and potentially treat hypertension in the rural areas of Pakistan.
According to the AKU, the trial was conducted in 10 rural communities in Thatta and was done in partnership with the district health services, private healthcare stakeholders, partners, and general practitioners.
The principal investigator of the study in Pakistan, Dr. Imtiaz Jehan, from the AKU, explained in a statement that
Uncontrolled hypertension or high blood pressure, lack of public awareness of the disease and its risk factors, and low anti-hypertensive medicine use are alarmingly high in Pakistan. Controlling blood pressure through lifestyle modifications and antihypertensive therapy can be the single most low-cost strategy to prevent the rising rates of heart attack, stroke and kidney failure and averting deaths due to these diseases in Pakistan.
She mentioned that the existing methodology for the treatment of these chronic conditions in Pakistan “is expensive, which is why governments around the world are evaluating the effectiveness of interventions at an earlier stage”.
The study showed that female health workers and public/private physicians in Pakistan receive standard training in the hypertension intervention using pre-determined protocols and treatment methods. It has been estimated that training more individuals in Pakistan would cost less than Rs. 1,500 per participant treated, and Rs. 45 per capita in the first year. These prices may decrease over time as the number of trained individuals increases.
For the time being, the research team is assessing the facilitation of the new program in partnership with the provincial authorities and health authorities of Pakistan.
Besides the domestic expectations for curbing healthcare issues, researchers anticipate that the results of this intervention trial will potentially guide research in other South Asian countries that are also looking to expand the program across a wider spectrum.
The goals of the study are in line with global targets where countries are aiming to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases by 2030 through cost-effective prevention and treatment strategies.