Novartis has announced the singing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Government of Rwanda to offer affordable medicines for the treatment of Non Communicable Diseases under its Novartis Access initiative.
Rwanda therefore becomes the third after Kenya and Ethiopia, and is expected to take delivery of the Novartis Access product in early 2017.
The announcement was made by Harald Nusser, Head Novartis Social Business during a health dialogue organized by the Novartis foundation last Tuesday in Basel, Switzerland. The meeting under the theme “Improving care for chronic patients in lower-income countries; the patient journey”, brought together health experts, NGOs, government to discuss the growing incidence of NCDs in low-and middle income countries (LMICs) and solutions needed to halt the alarming situation.
Since its launch in Kenya in September 2015, more than 10,000 patients with over 100,000 monthly treatments have been delivered to Kenya, Ethiopia and Lebanon, Harald Nusser, Head Novartis Social Business and Novartis Access said.
He added that as part of the initiative it had created awareness towards the prevention of NCDs in partnerships with local groups to harness the supervision and guidance of the local health authorities.
“The degree of skepticism is bigger than we thought” Harald intoned as he touched on challenges it has faced, “We will need to continue credible discussion to address this” he said.
Progress of the initiative, have also been challenged with local essential medicine list which are often outdated do not coincide with the World Health Organization’s essential medicines list.
He added that there is an increased public and private debate to explore collaborations with the Novartis Access initiative.
The Novartis access focuses on affordability and availability of 15 on-and off- patent medicines addressing four main NCD types – cardiovascular diseases,type 2 diabetes, respiratory illnesses and breast cancer. The portfolio is offered as a basket to government, NGOs and other public sector customers at a price of USD 1 per treatment per month.
The package aims at providing various treatment options,including well proven and standard first-line treatment It further includes capacity building to support health systems, raising awareness through partnership with government and NGOs towards the prevention, diagnosing and treatment of NCDs.
Advanced discussions are ongoing to introduce the program in more than 30 countries in sub-sharan Africa, Southeast Asia, Central America and Central Eastern Europe.
“We aim to roll out Novartis Access in some 30 countries over the next few years”Joerg Reinhardt, chairman of the board of directors, Novartis in a speech said.
“This wont be easy and we will need the full dedication of our partners to develop the program” he admitted
Non-Communicable diseases such as hypertension, cancers, diabetes have been established as a clear threat not only to human health, but also to development and economic growth. These NCDs kill 38 million people each year according to the World Health Organization(WHO), three quarters of these deaths – 28 million occur in low and middle income countries.
Majority of those who die of chronic non-communicable diseases are in the prime of their productive years, and thus, the disability imposed and the lives lost are also endangering industry competitiveness across borders.
Managing NCDs is challenging in lower-income countries as it is faced with a dual disease burden of infectious and chronic diseases, inadequate and weak health systems.
Kobby Blay is the chief health editor at Ghanahealthnest.com. A professional practicing nurse with specialty in mental health and focus for health communications, public health, medical/documentary photography, ICT and systems perspective for health improvement.