Assessment of availability, readiness, and challenges for scaling-up hypertension management services at primary healthcare facilities, Central Highland region, Vietnam, 2020

Thang Nghia Hoang, Thuy Phuong Nguyen, Mai Phuong Pham, Hue Kim Le Nguyen, Hieng H, Y Dech Buonya, Tram Dinh Le, Chaisiri Angkurawaranon

Introduction: Vietnam aims for 95% of commune health stations (CHSs) to have functional hypertension management programs by 2025. However, limited resources may impede the Central Highland region health system from achieving this goal. We assessed the availability and readiness of hypertension management services at CHSs in the Central Highland region and identified challenges to facilitate evidence-based planning.

Methods: We used a mixed-methods cross-sectional design to assess hypertension management services using WHO's service availability and readiness assessment (SARA) tools in all 579 CHSs in the region, combined with twenty in-depth interviews of hypertension program focal points at communal, district, and provincial levels in all four provinces. We descriptively analyzed quantitative data and thematically analyzed qualitative data.

Results: Hypertension management services were available at 65% of CHSs, and the readiness of the services was 62%. The urban areas had higher availability and readiness indices in most domains (basic amenities, basic equipment, and essential medicines) compared to rural areas, except for staff and training. The qualitative results showed a lack of trained staff and ambiguity in national hypertension treatment guidelines, insufficient essential medicines supply mechanism, and low priority and funding limitations for the hypertension program.

Conclusion: The overall availability and readiness for hypertension diagnosis and management service at CHSs in the Central Highland region were low, reflecting inadequate capacity of the primary healthcare facilities. Some measures to strengthen hypertension programs in the region might include increased financial support, ensuring a sufficient supply of basic medicines, and providing more specific treatment guidelines.

Keywords: Cardiovascular diseases; Community health services; Community health workers; Hypertension; Non-communicable disease; Preventive medicine; Primary health care.