Novartis brings affordable NCD treatment

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Ethiopia has expanded the possibilities of cures for non communicable dieses (NCD) via a partnership with Novartis Social Business.
Novartis, the Basel, Switzerland medical giant agreed with the government of Ethiopia to supply NCD medicine affordably as part of being a socially responsible business.
Since last year the company has commenced a one USD program in Ethiopia. They also have similar programs in Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Cameroon and other African countries.
During the annual event held with the motto: ‘Sustaining the Momentum toward Universal Health Coverage in Africa’ in Kampala, Uganda they discussed their plans for Ethiopia.
Dr Kunuz Abdella, an advisor at the Ministry of Health, told Capital that the company is one medicine supplier that the Ministry of Health is working together to provide affordable access to treatment.
“They are supplying the product and being corporately responsible. The capacity building program is one of the areas we are working together on,” Kunuz said.
The prevalence of NCDs like cancer and hypertension have increased, but treatment is very expensive. Novartis is working on access to medicine as part of a component on universal access on health.
The collaboration between the government and the company shows that the Public Private Partnership needs strengthening. During the meeting we saw that we could improve healthcare by working together,” he added.
Guesh Haile, Novartis Social Business Country Representative, said that under Novartis Medicine Access Program the company agreed with the government of Ethiopia to supply medicine for breast cancer, hypertension /blood pressure, asthma and diabetes for USD one per month.
It is a business model with fewer profit margins to improve health access in the country. In addition to supplying meds they will work on capacity building. “Currently through the partnership with the Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET) we are working to decentralize the treatment to lower medical centers in addition to hospitals,” he said.
The company has also agreed to expand its operation via the Ethiopian Red Cross Society pharmacies located throughout the country.
Mihret Tamir, representative of the Ethiopian Red Cross who attended the event, told Capital that the Danish Red Cross Society and Novartis have agreed to start supplying NCD treatment via its drug stores to places like Jinka, Harar and Assosa.
Guesh said “since the Red Cross does similar work to us we have signed an agreement to supply the medicine and training.”
He said that in the coming few months Novartis Social Business is expected to launch teaching programs about healthy communities and families.
He said that through this partnership 300,000 patients will be diagnosed this year.
Dr Nathan Mulure, Cluster Head, Novartis Social Business, East and Southern Africa, said that the company has expanded its operation in Ethiopia and other African countries.
His company is working with the government of Ethiopian and THET, which is a UK based NGO, to rollout its corporate social responsibility. Despite the agreements signed in 2015 to commence the one USD program, it is only gaining traction now.
Dr Nathan said that last year 300,000 packs of treatments were supplied in Ethiopia but this year that will grow to over a million.