By Lorraine Anyango
The County Government of Kisumu is forming partnerships with Novartis to strengthen access to pharmaceuticals and health care delivery.
This envisioned partnership will not only reduce Kisumu’s County dependency on KEMSA supplied pharmaceuticals, but also ensure that specific drugs are accessed at half price.
The drugs that will be accessed at half price include sickle cell drugs, neuroscience drugs including multiple sclerosis and epilepsy among others that are manufactured and supplied by Novartis.
Currently Kisumu is leading in sickle cell prevalence with about 1500 children born annually with sickle cell and out of every 10 births, three are carriers of the gene.
Dr Lutz, Hegemann, Novartis group head of corporate affairs and Global health who led a delegation, paid a courtesy call to Governor Prof; Peter Anyang’ Nyogo’s office raised concern with the low life expectancy of children with sickle cell disease.
50 percent of children born with sickle cell do not live to see their 5th birth day, this accounts for 30 percent mortality rate in comparison to developed countries which have just one percent mortality rate due to sickle cell disease.
“We have set up systems for children born with sickle cell to benefit from basic pharmacological products, however the way forward is gene therapy and other new innovation” Dr Hegemann said.
Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral hospital (JOOTRH) has plans underway to screen newborn babies to inform early interventions.
The infant screening will help in genetic counselling for parents who could potentially be having sickle cell disease as well as prepare them take care of their children.
noting the sickle cell burden is huge in Kisumu, Govenor Prof; Nyongo said it was important to improve access to pharmaceuticals to be able to attain the visions and missions of both Novartis and Kisumu County in matters of health.
On further strengthening access to pharmaceuticals, Prof; Nyongo was keen on the inclusion of Maseno University and Great Lakes University in the partnership between Kisumu County and Novartis.
“Great Lakes University is a purely a health-oriented institution, there is need to invest and fund the faculty of pharmacy to enable it produce drugs and vaccines” Prof; Nyongo’ added.
He also said that Maseno University is already training its students at JOOTRH noting that Kisumu county’s interest will also be in research and training.
Dr Luzt said that they will consider a combination of different approaches to better health delivery included in potential areas of partnerships with Kisumu County.
He added that Novartis and Kisumu county would form a framework for working and forge good relations.
Novartis Country President and Head of Novartis in Sub Saharan Africa, Ms Racey Muchilwa said that Novartis engages in cardio -renal metabolic, pain, oncology and kidney transplant and ophthalmology pharmaceuticals.
Chief Officer Health and Sanitation, Dr. Greggory Ganda said that such partnership should enhance evidenced based, people centered, focused leadership that is result oriented and promotes cohesion among staff.
Dr. Ganda said that community health programs in Kisumu needs digitization, adding that a multi- disciplinary team needs to be in place to support community health officers.
He also pointed out that JOOTRH needs to be supported in digitization of its system and that the 4 percent estimated Sickle cell prevalence remedies be part of health digitization.
Dr. George Rae the, CEO of JOOTRH, pointed out that the facility is seeking partnerships in the areas of research in sickle cell and oncology. “The software is part of the diagnosis and requires further engagement for the disease to be further understood.’ Dr Rae added.
He called upon Novartis to support JOOTRH set up a kidney transplant unit that was scheduled to be complete in the next four months.
The Novartis team also included Gesa Pellier, Head of Global Affairs, Roseanne Rotodo, Head of business global flagship programs and Beatrice Gachege Head of Communications in Sub Sahara Africa. Photo by Jacob Owiti.
The team also toured the JOOTRH’s oncology unit and the up- coming cancer comprehensive center.