Comprehensive Reviews of Hypertension and Related Co-Morbidities in Sub-Saharan Africa

The Novartis Foundation, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the School of Public Health, University of Ghana, Legon are attempting to synthesize all available evidence in a series of comprehensive systematic reviews in SSA to better understand the epidemiology and risk factors of hypertension and related co-morbidities; understand responses to hypertension treatment and management in SSA; and to identify what needs to be done in the future in response to increasing trend of hypertension in SSA. Dr. Danso-Appiah is leading efforts at the University of Ghana School of Public Health.

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a major clinical and public health challenge worldwide and a leading cause of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) including stroke, coronary heart disease, peripheral arterial disease and heart failure. The burden of the disease is highest in low and middle-income countries where hypertension affects 1 in every 5 of the adult population, with a projected increase to almost 3 out of every 4 adults having hypertension by 2025. The high incidence of hypertension observed in sub-Saharan Africa is directly linked with economic transition, urbanization, industrialisation and globalisation, that have brought about lifestyle changes and a shift to increased smoking, unhealthy diets with excess salt and fat intake, physical inactivity and consequential increased adiposity, and also longer life expectancy. However, despite the high numbers with hypertension in sub-Saharan Africa, most people are not aware they have the disease and those who are diagnosed may have limited access to treatment that can reduce their risk of death and disability from heart disease and stroke. Detection, treatment and control of hypertension are important health priority worldwide.  Although a number of systematic reviews on hypertension in SSA have been conducted, most of them have not been robust and comprehensive enough.

In line with this collaboration, Maira Frisch, Information Professional at the Novartis Pharma AG and Project Manager at Novartis Foundation in Basel, Switzerland came to Ghana and used the opportunity to give a presentation entitled "Knowledge Management in health care projects supported by modern virtual libraries for academics and science".

Maria Frisch giving her presentation

The presentation gave an introduction into “Innovating Healthcare Delivery” through the Novartis Foundation and leads over to “Knowledge Management at Novartis”, outlining effective use of available information to increase productivity of scientists and their institutions. In an advanced international environment, databases and electronic journals are key for learning and research. Therefore, state of the art knowledge management through an integrated virtual library is critical to keep an overview of (and to get access to) relevant scientific, technical and medical contents, in order to create evidence for innovative healthcare projects. Knowledge management is relevant for capacity building in various segments of modern international healthcare systems.

Dr. Danso-Appiah and Maria Frisch during the question and answer session


Bio of Maira Frisch
Maira Frisch is a Information Professional at the Novartis Pharma AG, Switzerland, responsible for global information acquisition and consultancy in the field of clinical development, trials and competitive intelligence.

Prior to joining Novartis in 2005, Maira gained experience in the international public health sector working as an European patient registry monitor at the University Hospital of Freiburg, Germany, and has altogether more than 20 years of experience in health care.
Maira holds a Master’s degree in Political Science and Linguistics from the Ruhr-University of Bochum, Germany, and a Master’s of science degree in Epidemiology from the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, Germany.

She is currently working in a research sabbatical as health project manager, focusing on the burden of disease of hypertension in sub-Saharan Africa, at the Novartis Foundation, a non-profit organization which is part of the corporate responsibility portfolio of Novartis.