Novartis and its partners announced the expansion of the Africa Sickle Cell Disease program to East Africa with the signature of two new memoranda of understanding with the Ministries of Health of Uganda and Tanzania.
The programme – first launched in Ghana in November 2019 – aims to improve and extend the lives of people with sickle cell disease (SCD) in sub-Saharan Africa, with plans to reach a total of 10 countries by 2022.
“In this time of worldwide uncertainty, it is even more important to support people living with chronic conditions like sickle cell disease,” said Dr Patrice Matchaba, Group Head of Global Health & Corporate Responsibility at Novartis.
“We are excited to join forces with the Ministries of Health of Uganda and Tanzania and local partners to reimagine treatment and care for people with sickle cell disease.”
Within the scope of these public-private partnerships, Novartis and its partners have agreed to explore collaboration opportunities aimed at tackling the growing burden of SCD in their countries.
The partners intend to develop and implement a comprehensive approach that includes making diagnosis and treatment available, accessible and affordable for patients and their families; promoting scientific research, training and education; and pursuing robust monitoring and evaluation of the program.
As a next step, Novartis plans to work with the respective Ministries of Health to further define the scope of each collaboration and explore opportunities for additional partnerships.
In Ghana, the program is already making progress with more than 2,000 patients being treated with hydroxyurea in 11 treatment centres across the country.
To date, Novartis has delivered more than 60 000 treatments of hydroxyurea in Ghana, helping ensure SCD patients have uninterrupted access to treatment during the global pandemic.
At the same time, Novartis has registered the medicine for the treatment of SCD in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. Hydroxyurea is a commonly used medicine for patients with SCD in developed countries, and is approved for use in both adults and children.
In addition, Novartis has signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Ghana with the intent to collaborate on promoting education, research, advocacy and capacity building to advance Ghana’s national health agenda to improve the health and well-being of people with SCD.