Living With Hypertension in Cameroon When You Live on Only a Few Dollars a Day

Alvine strives to get affordable drugs for hypertension in Cameroon
Sep 28, 2017 10:30 AM ET

This month like the previous ones, Alvine Nyintché is visiting the Etoug-Ebe Baptist Hospital in Yaounde. Aged 50, Alvine has been diagnosed with high blood pressure seven years ago.

“Most Cameroonians do not have medical insurance. Today, I pay 800 francs CFA every month for my hypertension treatment (about USD 1.5), whereas just a few months back, it cost me 5000 CFA francs. I am a single mother. My two daughters are unemployed and we have to pay rent,” says Alvine, who lives in Briqueterie, one of the largest slums of the Cameroonian capital.

Alvine has access today to an affordable treatment thanks to a new program which Cameroon will soon deploy across the country: Novartis Access. The program provides a portfolio of medicines against key chronic conditions at a price of USD 1 per treatment per month to health providers. In Cameroon, these medicines are available through some hospitals and clinics of the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services, including the Etoug-Ebe Baptist Hospital. The program will be extended to other faith-based organizations and eventually to the entire country.

A memorandum of understanding has recently been signed between the Ministry of Health of Cameroon and Novartis. This complements efforts by the government to establish prevention and control programs for chronic diseases, focused primarily on diabetes and hypertension. This collaboration is part of the solution to tackling the growing burden of NCDs in the country.

Beyond medicines, activities will be conducted to strengthen healthcare systems, for example by training healthcare professionals on NCD management, and by providing community education and awareness. In September, CBCHS and Novartis will kick off a Know Your Numbers campaign to encourage individuals to know their critical health numbers. The campaign will take place in seven health districts over the next two years, reaching a total of 1 million people.

Chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cancer and respiratory diseases are a growing concern in Cameroon, already causing 31% of deaths every year1. “Noncommunicable diseases can take years before being detected, which unfortunately often means that complications have already set in. As a nurse, it pains my heart when I see someone coming in with complications. If this person had been diagnosed earlier, we could have given her a treatment to keep her healthy and productive”, says Cordel Ndasi, a nurse at the Etoug-Ebe Baptist Hospital.

1 WHO: