Ghana partners Norvatis Group to fight Sickle Cell Anaemia
By Maxwell Obiri-Yeboah
The Government of Ghana and her affiliates, the Ministry of Health (MoH), Ghana Health Service (GHS), and the Sickle Cell Foundation of Ghana has partnered a global pharmaceutical giant, Novartis, to help reduce sickle cell anaemia to the lowest among patients in the country.
This is the nation’s biggest Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiative in the health sector geared towards educating, screening new born babies, and also providing the most effective drugs at an affordable price for patients.
As part of the agreement, the MoH and GHS are going to establish Sickle Cell Anaemia Centres of Excellence at specific facilities within the sixteen regions to educate the populace, screen new born babies, provide the necessary counsel, and give drugs to affected parents to be administered on diagnosed young ones.
Statistics has shown that about 16,000 children are born with Sickle Cell Anaemia Disease (SCAD) in the country, and it is a result of many deaths in new born babies and children under five years.
Hydroxyurea, one of the world’s most effective drugs for the management of Sickle Cell Anaemia, which has been developed by the Norvatis Group and accepted by authorities after years of researching into the disease, are also going to be administered to patients at an affordable price.
This drug is capable of reducing the pains patients go through, and also increase the Haemoglobin content in one’s blood to function on a daily basis.
Novartis, a multimillion dollar pharmaceutical company that has been in existence for over two and a half centuries and based in the United States of America, is also going to provide experts to assist and monitor the health conditions of patients who would be enrolled to take these drugs all over the country.
Speaking at the launch of the programme in Accra on Wednesday, this week, Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia gave the assurance that registered SCAD patients across the country would soon receive the Hydroxyurea drug at designated centres for treatment, and this would “bring the much needed financial relief to many Ghanaians, as well as new born babies to be screened.”
Dr. Bawumia noted that “Sickle Cell Anaemia (SCA),” he knows, is “a disease that has an emotional and psychological effect on patients, and has the biggest recorded figures in Africa.”
He expressed that this is not just about treatment, but rather it is about establishing a network that would see to it that the health of the nation’s citizens is improved.
Dr. Vas Narasimhan, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Novartis, donated 60,000 of the drugs to be administered to the early patients who would report to any of the designated facilities to help ease their problems.
The Minister for Health, Mr. Kwaku Agyemang Manu, also revealed that plans were in place for the Hydroxyurea drugs to be added onto the list of drugs currently on the National Health Insurance Scheme.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr. Anthony Nsiah Asare, and Professor Kwaku Ohene-Frempong, President of the Sickle Cell Foundation, and Nii Okwei Kinka Dowuona VI, Osu Mantse and President of the Greater Accra House of Chiefs, expressed their optimism about this partnership, and pledged to use their various positions and influence to back this move to make sure it succeeds.