Kenya Launches Affordable and Available Drugs against NCDs
By George Okore
Kenya today became the first country to launch several drugs to increase access to 15 affordable medicines against cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, respiratory illnesses and breast cancer in developing countries
Unveiled under the banner Novartis Access, the Program will expand affordable treatment options against chronic diseases that will see the cost come down to 1 dollar per treatment bringing dignity and hope to millions of patients in Kenya.
The project will support Kenyan government on non-communicable disease (NCD) prevention and control – by 2030, NCDs are expected to cause more than 60% of deaths in the country. It will also distribute medicines, raise disease awareness and strengthen healthcare system capabilities in key NCDs.
Kenyan Health Minister James Macharia appreciated the urgent need to fight against cancer and other chronic diseases, saying some 28 million people die from chronic diseases in low- and middle-income countries each year, representing 75% of such deaths globally. The minister says NCDs like diabetes, cancer and high blood pressure are projected to overtake communicable and nutritional diseases as the most common causes of death in Africa by 2030.
“In Kenya, NCDs account for 27% of deaths, or almost 100,000 people per year. By 2030, NCDs are expected to contribute to more than 60% of the total national mortality. In July 2015, the Kenyan government launched a new strategy for prevention, control and management of NCDs” says the Minister.
Swedish Ambassador to Kenya Ralf Hecker said his country is committed to improving healthcare in Africa, where it is estimated that 10 fastest growing world economies will be in Africa in the next five years. It is estimated that by the end of 2014, there were more than 635 million mobile subscriptions in Sub-Saharan Africa, and more than half of Africa’s population will live in cities by 2030.
The Envoy says Africa is still disproportionately affected by infectious diseases that put a significant burden on economies, and life expectancy in Africa is 15 years less than the global average. Malaria and other infectious, preventable diseases like HIV, tuberculosis, pneumonia and even leprosy still stand in the way of growth. In fact, 90% of global malaria deaths occur in Africa.
Novartis Chairman Joerg Reinhardt said the Swiss based pharmaceutical firm is dedicated to educating next generation of scientists, clinicians and healthcare workers, helping to ensure future research and patient care for Africa is based on the continent. He said successful implementation of the program in Kenya will be essential to guide the expansion of Novartis Access to other countries in the future.
“We aim to partner with governments and NGOs to distribute these medicines on the ground and
to raise awareness and strengthen healthcare system capabilities in key NCDs, including training on diagnosis and treatment, said Mr. Reinhard adding that after trials in Kenya, the project will be replicated in other countries globally. This coincides with the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015, where the new Sustainable Development Goals have been adopted.
“In Kenya, in collaboration with Health Ministry Kenyatta Hospital enables local healthcare workers to carry out bioequivalence or clinical pharmacology studies that assess drug quality and pharmacogenetic differences among diverse populations, respectively, with a focus on cardiovascular medications, “he said at the launch.