By Irene Gaitirira
Published October 15, 2015
A major global drugs-manufacturing company has announced the launch of a portfolio of 15 affordable medicines for chronic diseases in Kenya.
Novartis International AG of Switzerland says it is offering the drugs for treating cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, respiratory illnesses, and breast cancer “to the Kenyan government, non-governmental organizations and other public-sector healthcare providers for USD 1 per treatment, per month.”
In the past, majority of Kenyans have been relying on natural methods to treat cancer and other chronic diseases. For example, most people already know about ginger and cancer treatment. With the introduction of the new drugs in the market, more people are going to benefit.
“Novartis and Kenya have a relationship of more than 40 years, so I am delighted that Kenyan patients will be the first to benefit from Novartis Access,” said Joerg Reinhardt, Chairman of the Board of Novartis, in a media statement issued through Africa Press Organisation on October 15, 2015. “The successful implementation of the program in Kenya will be essential to guide the expansion of Novartis Access to other countries in the future.”
In conjunction with the launch of the access portfolio and to support effective treatment of chronic diseases in Kenya, Novartis will partner with the Kenyan Ministry of Health, the Kenyan Red Cross, the Kenyan Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), the Christian Health Association of Kenya (CHAK), Management Sciences for Health (MSH) and other key stakeholders. These collaborations are intended to support the healthcare system through measures such as reinforcing drug distribution channels and training healthcare workers to diagnose and treat chronic illnesses. Novartis is also collaborating with Boston University in the US to measure the impact on health in Kenya and steer ongoing development of Novartis Access.
“I am excited by the proactive steps being taken by our government and Novartis in the fight against cancer and other chronic diseases,” said Margaret Gakuo Kenyatta, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s wife. “Novartis Access complements the advocacy campaign I have been undertaking together with other African First Ladies to expand access to prevention and treatment for people with chronic diseases.”
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), some 28 million people die from chronic diseases in low- and middle-income countries each year, representing 75% of such deaths globally.In Kenya, WHO says, NCDs account for 27% of deaths, or almost 100,000 people per year.The UN agency estimates that NCDs are expected to contribute to more than 60% of the total national mortality in the East African country by 2030.The Kenyan government launched a new strategy for the prevention, control and management of NCDs in July 2015.
“The most pressing health problems can only be solved if the public sector, civil society and the private sector work together,” said Dr. Abbas Gullet, Secretary General of the Kenya Red Cross. “Novartis is making an important contribution to fighting NCDs, but in order for Novartis Access to make a long-term impact, we need to drive it locally.”
The Novartis Access portfolio includes patented and generic Novartis medicines. The products have been selected based on the World Health Organization’s Essential Medicines List and are among the most commonly prescribed medicines. Following Kenya, Novartis Access will be launched in Ethiopia and Vietnam. Over the coming years, Novartis plans to roll out Novartis Access to 30 countries, depending on demand. Novartis expects this new approach to be commercially sustainable over the long term, enabling continuous support in those regions.