World Heart Day 2017 – a Global Vision for Healthy Hearts

On World Heart Day 2017, the Novartis Foundation and our partners are proud to report the ambitious steps we are taking around the world to tackle hypertension in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
Sep 29, 2017 4:00 AM ET

Cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension, account for nearly half of the world’s deaths from non-communicable diseases (NCDs).[1] With almost 75% of NCD deaths occurring in LMICs,[2] the Novartis Foundation recognizes the importance of World Heart Day in raising awareness of cardiovascular disease and promoting good heart health globally.

Our goal is to create sustainable impact through a combination of programmatic work, outcomes research and policy influence. Around the world, we bring together multidisciplinary, multisector partners at both global and local levels to find new ways to address hypertension.

Supporting healthy hearts

“Wherever I go, I measure blood pressure for all the adults and I do not let anyone refuse!” - Ms. Vo Thi Ngoc, community collaborator, Communities for Healthy Hearts

Working with our partners, the Novartis Foundation’s programs are addressing hypertension from pilot models to initiatives which aim to achieve rapid impact at scale. Launched this year, Better Hearts Better Cities convenes networks of multisector partners – from food suppliers to health authorities, employers and city planners – to contribute expertise and resources to find solutions to improve cardiovascular health at scale in cities.

> Read the latest update from Better Hearts Better cities here.

Our other hypertension programs - Communities for Healthy Hearts  in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and the Community-based Hypertension Improvement Project (ComHIP) in Ghana – aim to bring hypertension detection and management closer to local communities by maximizing hypertension screening and education opportunities with blood pressure check points in local shops, pharmacies and other businesses. Learnings from these pioneering programs will also inform the implementation of Better Hearts Better Cities as part of an ongoing process of evaluation and adaptation which runs throughout all our programs.

Learning from outcomes

“We are delivering access to healthcare for hypertension in a completely new way, helping empower patients to manage their disease and lead healthier lives – and that’s exciting!” - Amos Laar, ComHIP team, University of Ghana, School of Public Health

Everything the Novartis Foundation does is grounded in evidence, following a continuous cycle of evaluation, adaptation and application. Working alongside our academic and research partners, we aim to evaluate and apply learnings in addressing hypertension to future initiatives, and ultimately to inform strategies to tackle other chronic diseases in LMICs.

Alongside our hypertension programs, we also launched the Hypertension Working Group of the International Consortium for Health Outcomes Measurement (ICHOM). ICHOM is a consortium between Harvard University, the Boston Consulting Group and the Karolinska Institute. The Hypertension Working Group is tasked with defining standard health outcomes for hypertension in low-income settings. Once complete, this set of standards is expected to be the first developed by ICHOM specifically for low-income settings.

With our partners the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the School of Public Health at the University of Ghana, we are also attempting to synthesize all available evidence in a series of comprehensive systematic reviews, to better understand hypertension in sub-Saharan Africa. The project seeks to review evidence on the epidemiology and risk factors of hypertension and related co-morbidities; understand responses to hypertension treatment and management; and to identify what needs to be done in the future to address the rising rates of hypertension in the region.

Applying what we know at scale

Translated into policy, experience gained on-the-ground and the evidence generated can work to address global health challenges at scale.

As the focus and scale of our work widens to multisector, large-scale initiatives like Better Hearts Better Cities, we aim to tackle not only hypertension but broader issues like urban health and the global burden of NCDs. For example, together with the NCD Alliance, we are working to examine how workplace programs in LMICs can help tackle NCDs in a sustainable way.

Ultimately, we want to create a roadmap for chronic disease prevention and management in LMICs which, when translated to global policy, can improve the health of people around the world.

Join the conversation on social media with @NovartisFDN #WorldHeartDay #hypertension


[1] World Health Organization, Noncommunicable diseases, Fact sheet (Updated June 2017) Available at:

[2] World Health Organization, Global status report on non-communicable diseases, 2014, Available at: [p.xi]