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Kenya signs deal to help manage chronic diseases

NAIROBI: People suffering from cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, respiratory illness and breast cancer will soon benefit from a health package set to drastically reduce the cost of medicine for their conditions.

According to a memorandum of understanding signed between the Government and a multi-national healthcare company, Novartis, health care providers will access a portfolio of 15 affordable medicines at Sh100 per treatment monthly.

This will greatly reduce the cost of buying medicine used to treat the chronic diseases, which currently cost between Sh10,000  and Sh100,000 per month for every patient.

During the launch of the programme dubbed "Novartis Access" at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) yesterday, Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said Kenya is experiencing an increase in non-communicable diseases, and the cost of treating every case is so expensive that most patients end up dying due to poor access to medicine.

"Currently, cancer patients need about Sh55,000 for a dose of medicine that they use every two weeks. The cost is overwhelming and most families cannot afford it," said Mr Macharia.

Kenya is the first country globally to benefit from the programme, which aims to transform the health sector by expanding affordable treatment. It is expected to be absorbed in hospitals within a few months.

Novartis Board Chairman Joerg Reinhardt said they will sponsor the programme with as much as the country needs, adding that their mandate is to reduce the financial burden that patients face as they deal with chronic diseases.

Mr Reinhardt further said Kenya was identified as the ideal country for the pilot project due to the Government's willingness to work with them, and because they have been working together for more than 40 years.

"I am delighted that Kenyan patients will be the first to benefit from Novartis Access. The successful implementation will be essential to guide the expansion of the programme to other countries in the future," he said.

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