an initiative of Vital Strategies

Press releases

WHO Endorsement of Simpler Drug Treatment for Blood Pressure Will Save Lives

Jul. 9, 2019

Including fixed dose combinations on Essential Medicine List will improve availability, affordability for 1 billion

(New York, NY) Resolve to Save Lives (RTSL), an initiative of Vital Strategies, welcomes the addition of four fixed dose combinations (FDCs) of antihypertensive medications to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Essential Medicines List (EML) in response to an application filed by RTSL and partners. Adding four FDCs (lisinopril/amlodipine, lisinopril /hydrochlorothiazide, telmisartan/amlodipine, and telmisartan/hydrochlorothiazide) to the Essential Medicines List is a critical step to improve the availability and affordability of these drugs, making it easier for the more than 1 billion people with high blood pressure worldwide to regularly take the medicines they need to prevent early disability and death.

FDCs, which combine two or more blood pressure medications that are commonly taken together into a single pill, have been proven to improve patients’ adherence to medication regimens and blood pressure control rates. FDCs have important advantages for patients and health systems, including simpler dose schedules, decreased pill burden, reduced stockouts, and easier task sharing, training, and supervision.

“High blood pressure kills more people than all infectious diseases combined, but there are safe, effective, generic, low-cost medications that can prevent many of these deaths,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives. “FDCs have played an important role in improving blood pressure control rates in many countries, and their inclusion in the WHO EML will encourage all health systems to prioritize these life-saving drugs.”

Many countries use the WHO EML as a model, and the listing of FDC antihypertensive medications will promote broader global uptake. Resolve to Save Lives coordinated the application for antihypertensive FDC’s inclusion in the 21st WHO EML with support from Vital Strategies, the Arnhold Institute for Global Health, the George Institute for Global Health, and the Young Professionals Chronic Disease Network.

Only one of every seven people who has high blood pressure worldwide has it under control, even though high blood pressure can be safely treated and managed with medication. A major reason for low global control is that most patients require two or more drugs to control blood pressure, yet many only receive one. Improving worldwide control of high blood pressure to 70% percent can prevent almost 40 million deaths over 25 years.

“Ensuring a supply of safe, effective medications for high blood pressure and promoting patient-centered care through convenient medication regimens are both key to improving blood pressure control rates around the world,” said Dr. Frieden. “Having FDCs for hypertension on the WHO EML is a breakthrough for both of these proven strategies, and for getting these drugs to the people who need them.”

Many leading global organizations support increasing access to FDCs of antihypertensive medications, including the American Heart Association, European Society of Hypertension, International Society of Hypertension, Lancet Commission on Hypertension Group, Latin American Society on Hypertension, Resolve to Save Lives, World Heart Federation, World Hypertension League, and World Stroke Organization.

Resolve to Save Lives does not accept funding or any type of gift from pharmaceutical companies or device manufacturers.

Additional Information

Although specific medications are listed in the EML, countries can select similar medications of the same class. For example, many experts recommend that chlorthalidone be used in place of hydrochlorothiazide because of evidence that it is more effective in preventing cardiovascular events. Current availability of chlorthalidone is limited and prices are higher than hydrochlorothiazide, but that may change if chlorthalidone becomes more widely used.

About Resolve to Save Lives

Resolve to Save Lives is a five-year, $225 million campaign funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It is led by Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and coordinated by Vital Strategies, which works in 60 countries to address the world’s most challenging health issues.

Resolve to Save Lives aims to save 100 million lives over the next 30 years by:

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that seeks to accelerate progress on the world’s most pressing health problems. Our team combines evidence-based strategies with innovation to help develop and implement sound public health policies, manage programs efficiently, strengthen data systems, conduct research, and design strategic communication campaigns for policy and behavior change. To find out more, please visit www.vitalstrategies.org or Twitter @VitalStrat.

For further information or to arrange an interview with a Resolve to Save Lives expert, please contact Erin Sykes at +1 646-612-0001 or esykes@resolvetosavelives.org or Christina Honeysett, Vital Strategies at +1 914.424.3356 or choneysett@vitalstrategies.org.

100 Countries Now Know How Prepared They Are for Next Outbreak – Time to Close the Gaps

Jul. 9, 2019

The 100th JEE was completed by Haiti, one of the first countries in the Americas to complete the exercise.

(New York, NY) The world has reached a new milestone in epidemic preparedness. One hundred countries have now completed a Joint External Evaluation (JEE), the world’s gold standard for evaluating how prepared a country is to find, stop and prevent an epidemic. The JEE helps countries determine which preparedness gaps are most important to fill in order to reduce epidemic risk, and how to fill these gaps.

“Congratulations to the 100 countries that completed the JEE. Five years ago, this seemed like a nearly impossible goal,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies. “JEEs are pointing the way to a safer world. As we shift from evaluation to action – governments, civil society and donors need to urgently step up readiness.”

The 100th JEE was completed by Haiti, one of the first countries in the Americas to complete the exercise.

“100 countries have completed the JEE, and 7,000 gaps have been identified,” said Amanda McClelland, Senior Vice President of the Prevent Epidemics team at Resolve to Save Lives. “As we celebrate this success, we can’t lose sight of the work ahead of us. Once countries complete a JEE, that’s when the real work begins⁠—closing the gaps identified by the assessment to ensure we’re better prepared tomorrow.”

PreventEpidemic.org, a website created by Resolve to Save Lives, uses JEE data to show how prepared each country is for the next epidemic, and provides advocacy tools to encourage governments to fill preparedness gaps.

Additional information:

The Joint External Evaluation (JEE) is a comprehensive, standardized and transparent assessment of a country’s ability to find, stop and prevent disease threats, conducted first by a group of domestic experts and then validated by an external group of independent international experts. Similar to a report card, 19 areas of epidemic preparedness and response ability are assessed and then scored. The assessment is voluntary, initiated by a country, conducted approximately every five years, and the results are published by the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO also uses other processes, including mandated annual self-reporting (the results of which are also presented on this site), simulation exercises, and after-action reviews to help countries assess and identify areas for improvement in preparedness and response.

How To Save 100 Million Lives Through Improved Heart Health

June 11, 2019

New study shows three scalable interventions can save millions of lives globally

(New York, USA) – A new study in the journal Circulation reports nearly 100 million lives could be saved by increasing the number of people around the world treated for high blood pressure, by reducing salt intake and by eliminating trans fat from the global food supply. The authors used current global figures on blood pressure, salt intake and trans fat consumption to estimate the impact that evidence-based interventions would have on future death rates. They found that scaling up global treatment for high blood pressure to 70% could delay 39.4 million deaths, that reaching a 30% reduction in sodium intake could delay an additional 40 million deaths, and that eliminating trans fat could delay 14.8 million deaths, for a total of almost 100 million lives in 25 years.

Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies, welcomes these findings, which demonstrate the life-saving potential of cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention on a global scale. The findings highlight the need for renewed and increased commitments to improving high blood pressure treatment, reducing salt intake, and eliminating trans fats from governments, health systems, and advocates. The three cost-effective, feasible interventions are needed to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 3.4, which aims to reduce risk of premature death from noncommunicable diseases by one third by 2030.

“Improving blood pressure, reducing salt and eliminating trans fat have tremendous potential to improve cardiovascular health globally, said Dr. Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives. “But the full potential of these interventions to save lives can only be reached with increased national and international efforts. The research published in Circulation shows that this is a public health opportunity that we can’t leave on the table. There are millions of lives at stake, and we have proven solutions.”

Resolve to Save Lives aims to work with partners to save 100 million lives by:

Non-communicable diseases (NCD), including cardiovascular disease, claim 38 million lives a year and are the leading global cause of death. 40% of those who die from NCDs are younger than 70, and 80% of these premature NCD deaths occur in low- and middle- income countries (LMICs).

Despite the substantial and growing burden of heart disease in LMICs, only 1% or less of all global health funding is currently invested in NCD prevention.

Media Contact:

Erin Sykes, Resolve to Save Lives: esykes@resolvetosavelives.org; +1.646.612.0001
Christina Honeysett, Vital Strategies: choneysett@vitalstrategies.org; +1.914.424.3356
Tracey Johnston, Vital Strategies: tjohnston@vitalstrategies.org; +44.(0)7889.081.170

Link to article

https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.118.038160

About Resolve to Save Lives

Resolve to Save Lives is a five-year, $225 million campaign funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Gates Philanthropy Partners, which is funded with support from the Chan Zuckerberg Foundation. It is led by Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and housed at Vital Strategies. .

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. Our programs reach into 73 countries and help prevent death and illness from noncommunicable disease, reduce harm caused by environmental factors, and support cities as engines for public health. We consult with governments on issues including restricting junk food marketing to kids, promoting smoke-free laws, improving indoor and outdoor air quality, and strengthening road safety. These are protections that can add up to millions of lives saved. Our team combines evidence-based strategies with innovation to help develop and implement sound public health policies, manage programs efficiently, strengthen data systems, conduct research and design strategic communication campaigns for policy and behavior change.