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Hypertension campaign saves lives in Congo (UM News)

April 12, 2022

Connections from as far away as Tennessee helped Mwange Assy, a young woman living in the Democratic Republic of Congo, deliver a healthy baby.

Assy knew she was suffering from high blood pressure because of the education she received at United Methodist Shungu Clinic in Kamina. During her pregnancy, she came to the clinic for regular checkups and low-dose aspirin.

“Thank you to the nurses, medical doctors and those who support our Shungu Clinic,” Assy said in a video message.

In early 2021, Harper Hill Global, a Nashville, Tennessee, faith-based organization, joined with the World Hypertension Action GroupColleagues in Care and the North Katanga United Methodist Church to provide lifesaving information on how risky high blood pressure can be for pregnant women.

The Rev. Betty Kazadi Musau, health board chair and director of communications for the church’s North Katanga Episcopal Area, is the hands and feet of the campaign.

“The Bible says people perish because they lack knowledge. Education on hypertension is fighting myths by unveiling ignorance,” said Musau, an occasional contributor to UM News.

Many living in rural Africa believe that if a woman dies during childbirth, it is due to witchcraft, Musau added.

United Methodist Rev. Neelley Hicks, founder of Harper Hill Global, said the organization’s work is not about converting people to religion. 

“It is about being the hands and feet of Christ in the world,” Hicks said. “We serve as a bridge.”

Harper Hill Global has supplied Musau with virtual classroom technologies to help her educate people in rural villages about hypertension.

Firdaus Kharas of Chocolate Moose Media has created an animated video, “A Better Life: Safe Pregnancy.” The short film showcases the dangers of high blood pressure for pregnant women and how it can be prevented. It is available in French, Swahili, Hausa, Portuguese and English.

Harper Hill Global has spread the hypertension initiative through use of WhatsApp and media grants for radio and television buys. A coloring book was developed by World Hypertension Action Group, and a song was written by the North Katanga Conference that warns women about alcohol and salt use during pregnancy.

Musau said the song is on local radio three times a day, and the animation is on local television twice a day. 

“The hypertension awareness program is saving a lot of lives in the community around the North Katanga Episcopal Area of The United Methodist Church, especially pregnant women,” said Bishop Mande Muyombo, who leads the area. 

Muyombo said Musau’s commitment to the initiative is “a true witness of her commitment to advancing God’s Kingdom.”

“May God bless all partners who have coalesced around this critical initiative aiming at saving the lives of pregnant women, lay and clergy members,” he said.

Musau said her passion and calling is working with women and children. Hicks echoes that same passion.

“We are all the body of Christ,” she said. “I am a joint.”