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Society for Family Health and Novartis Social Business join forces to fight chronic diseases in Nigeria

  • Society for Family Health partners with Novartis Social Business to supply medicines against chronic diseases for the poorest and the most vulnerable populations.
  • SFH will distribute Novartis Access medicines to treat 4 of the most common chronic diseases: cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, respiratory illnesses and breast cancer.
  • The partnership includes capacity-building activities to start over the next few months before treatments arrive on the ground.
  • SFH is building upon 30 years of experience in health areas such as infectious diseases, family planning and maternal and child health to tackle the growing burden of chronic diseases in Nigeria.

Abuja, 26 September 2018 – We are pleased to announce that Society for Family Health (SFH) and Novartis Social Business have signed an agreement to implement Novartis Access in Nigeria. Through this partnership, SFH will distribute Novartis Access medicines to treat chronic diseases to the poorest and the most vulnerable populations in health facilities, and in the hospitals and clinics SFH is working with throughout the country. The collaboration also includes capacity-building activities and community awareness.

The Novartis Access portfolio includes high-quality medicines targeting four key chronic diseases, also known as non-communicable diseases (NCDs): cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, respiratory illnesses, and breast cancer. This portfolio covers the world’s most frequently prescribed medicines for chronic diseases.

“Nigeria is increasingly affected by the burden of non-communicable diseases as lifestyles and habits become more sedentary,” said Sir Bright Ekweremadu, Managing Director Society for Family Health, SFH. “We have been working for more than 30 years to help Nigerians, particularly the poor and most vulnerable, to live healthier lives including by improving access to essential health services. This collaboration with Novartis Social Business is part of the solution to the challenges of the poor who are most at risk of NCDs.”

Nigeria is facing many challenges to tackle its growing NCD burden. According to the World Health Organization (WHO)1, the probability of dying due to one of the four main NCDs between the ages of 30 and 70 is 20 percent in Nigeria (as of 2014).

NCDs are estimated to account for 24 percent of deaths in the country as a whole. Cardiovascular diseases are the deadliest set of NCDs in Nigeria, responsible for seven percent of deaths. Cancer accounts for three percent of deaths; diabetes accounts for two percent of deaths; chronic respiratory diseases account for one percent of deaths; and other NCDs account for eleven percent.

The country’s advancing middle-class and increasing urbanization are driving an increase in lifestyle factors which pose high risk for several NCDs, including obesity and tobacco use. 8.9 percent of Nigerian adults are obese2 and more than 3.5 million adults use tobacco daily – a smoking prevalence of 17.4 percent3.

“SFH was founded 30 years ago to help the poor and vulnerable live healthier lives in Nigeria. Since our creation, we have conducted hundreds of programmes throughout the country in collaboration with both public and private partners in areas such as family planning, HIV & AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, maternal and children health,” said Dr. Omokhudu Idogho, DMD Social Business Enterprise, SFH. He added: “As part of our strong commitment to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Nigeria, we are working to promote disease prevention, facilitate access to basic healthcare and life-saving medicines in both urban and rural areas, conduct health education and awareness, and strengthen service capacity with key focus on health care facilities and workers. The partnership with Novartis Social Business will help us put our expertise and experience behind a programme that will help poor populations get diagnosis and access to key medicines to treat chronic diseases in Nigeria, which are often responsible for catastrophic health expenditure.”.

“We are pleased to help Nigerian patients better manage their chronic conditions,” said Dr. Parfait Touré, Head of the West and Central African cluster for Novartis Social Business. “We believe new approaches such as our Novartis Access portfolio that bring governments, the private sector and social sector together are needed to expand access to medicines and healthcare delivery in our countries.”

In Nigeria treatments will be offered to patients through SFH at a final cost of up to 2.21 USD per patient per month. Beyond medicines, the collaboration will also include activities to strengthen healthcare systems in Nigeria, for example by training healthcare professionals on NCD screening, diagnosis and treatment, quality assurance and by providing community education and awareness.

The program will be implemented to start in 8 states in Nigeria, potentially reaching more than 5 million patients.

Nigeria becomes the fifth country in Africa (after Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Cameroon) to sign an agreement to distribute Novartis Access treatments against chronic diseases. First treatments will start reaching patients in the upcoming months.

About Society Family Health

Society for Family Health is one of Nigeria’s largest non-governmental organisations founded in 1985 by a group of eminent Nigerians: Justice Ifeyinwa Nzeako (late), Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti (late), Pharmacist Dahiru Wali. Society for Family Health Nigeria has a mission to empower Nigerians, particularly the poor and vulnerable to lead healthier lives. Working with the private and public sectors, SFH adopts social marketing and behaviour change communication to improve access to essential health information, services, and products to motivate the adoption of healthy behaviours.

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