The feasibility and acceptability of screening for hypertension in private drug retail outlets: a pilot study in Mwanza region, Tanzania

Denna Michael, Dotto Kezakubi, Adinan Juma, Jim Todd, Hugh Reyburn and Jenny Renju
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Background Hypertension is a major contributor to ill health in sub-Saharan Africa. Developing countries need to increase access for screening. This study assesses the feasibility and acceptability of using private sector drug retail outlets to screen for hypertension in Mwanza region, Tanzania.

Methods A pilot study took place in eight drug retail outlets from August 2013 to February 2014. Customers ≥18 years were invited for screening. Socio-demographic characteristics, hypertension knowledge, hypertension screening and treatment history were collected. Subjects with systolic blood pressure over 140 mmHg were referred for follow up. Referral slips captured attendance. Mystery client visits and follow up phone calls were conducted to assess service quality.

Results A total of 971 customers were screened, one person refused; 109 (11.2%) had blood pressure over 140/90 mmHg and were referred for ongoing assessment; 85/109 (78.0%) were newly diagnosed. Customers reported that the service was acceptable. Service providers were able to follow the protocol. Only 18/85 (21%) newly diagnosed participants visited the referral clinic within two weeks.

Conclusions Blood pressure screening was feasible and acceptable to customers of private drug retail outlets. However many who were referred failed to attend at a referral centre and further research is needed in this area.