People in Malaysia and the Philippines are increasingly likely to have high blood pressure, leading to a growing burden of disability and premature death. Yet this is a condition that is easily treated, with inexpensive drugs, some of which have been in use since the 1960s. Although we have long known how to manage high blood pressure in the individual patient, and so prevent complications like heart and kidney disease and stroke, in practice there are often barriers to doing so, especially for those living in low-income communities. Appropriate solutions need local knowledge, and those with hypertension are best placed to provide it. The RESPOND project brings together partners from leading research institutions in Malaysia, the Philippines and the United Kingdom to collect the knowledge needed to overcome health system barriers to the best management of high blood pressure, while supporting local capacity building in health systems research and methods for knowledge transfer.
RESPOND uses a range of different methods to capture the complex barriers to achieving control of high blood pressure. It is at the cutting edge of health systems research, using innovative open-source mobile technology to capture participant-generated content (audio, text, video, etc.) on their lived experience in real-time, allowing us to understand the often nuanced experiences of their interactions with both formal and informal providers. However, while the project is based in Malaysia and the Philippines, we expect it to offer lessons for the global community, and especially those in low and middle-income countries who are seeking to implement patient-centered and pro-poor responses to the growing burden of non-communicable disease (NCD). We will do this through a wide variety of outputs, including policy briefs, academic papers, and multimedia resources for training and advocacy, while strengthening local capacity in research methods and communication.