Background Although hypertension, the largest modifiable risk factor in the global burden of disease, is prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, rates of awareness and control are low. Since 2011 village health workers (VHWs) in Kisoro district, Uganda have been providing non-communicable disease (NCD) care as part of the Chronic Disease in the Community (CDCom) Program. The VHWs screen for hypertension and other NCDs as part of a door-to-door biannual health census, and, under the supervision of health professionals from the local district hospital, also serve as the primary providers at monthly village-based NCD clinics. Objective/Methods We describe the operation of CDCom, a 10-year comprehensive program employing VHWs to screen and manage hypertension and other NCDs at a community level. Using program records we also report hypertension prevalence in the community, program costs, and results of a cost-saving strategy to address frequent medication stockouts. Results/Conclusions Of 4283 people ages 30-69 screened for hypertension, 22% had a blood pressure (BP) ≥140/90 and 5% had a BP ≥ 160/100. All 163 people with SBP ≥170 during door-to-door screening were referred for evaluation in CDCom, of which 91 (59%) had repeated BP ≥170 and were enrolled in treatment. Of 761 patients enrolled in CDCom, 413 patients are being treated for hypertension and 68% of these had their most recent blood pressure below the treatment target. We find: 1) The difference in hypertension prevalence between this rural, agricultural population and national rates mirrors a rural-urban divide in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa. 2) VHWs are able to not only screen patients for hypertension, but also to manage their disease in monthly village-based clinics. 3) Mid-level providers at a local district hospital NCD clinic and faculty from an academic center provide institutional support to VHWs, stream-line referrals for complicated patients and facilitate provider education at all levels of care. 4) Selective stepdown of medication doses for patients with controlled hypertension is a safe, cost-saving strategy that partially addresses frequent stockouts of government- supplied medications and patient inability to pay. 5) CDCom, free for village members, operates at a modest cost of 0.20 USD per villager per year. We expect that our datainformed analysis of the program will benefit other groups attempting to decentralize chronic disease care in rural communities of low-income regions worldwide.
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