Ghana Partners Novartis Group to Fight Sickle Cell Anemia

The Government of Ghana in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MoH), Ghana Health Service (GHS) and the Sickle Cell Foundation of Ghana has partnered with Novartis, a Switzerland –based international pharmaceutical company to help fight sickle cell anemia in the country.

The Public- Private Partnership initiative was aimed at reducing the rate of patients with sickle cell anaemia in the country by the use of Hydoxyurea, a drug for the treatment and management of Sickle Cell Disease (SCD). It was also for the screening of new born babies and providing the most effective and affordable drug for patients with the disease. 

As part of the partnership agreement, the two countries are to ensure that the drug was constantly available to be administered to all people suffering from the SCD in the country, especially children between the ages of one and ten years. Also, the MoH and GHS would establish a Sickle Cell Anemia Centres in some facilities throughout the sixteen regions of the country to screen new born babies, educate patients and administer the drugs to affected babies who are diagnosed with the disease.

These were made known during a call on the Commander of the 37 military hospital Brig Gen Nii Adjah Obodai by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Novartis Pharmaceutical Company, Dr Vasant Narasimhan and his team from Switzerland and other countries on Wednesday, November 6, 2019 at the Officers’ Mess of the hospital in Accra.

Brig Gen Nii Adjah thanked them for coming and for choosing Ghana to be the first African country to benefit from this gesture. He said the move, would help treat and manage people suffering from the sickle cell disease.

He said it was his hope that the drug ‘’Hydroxyurea’’ would always be made available for patients with the disease in order to reduce the pain that they go through when in crisis.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Norvatis international pharmaceutical company Dr Vasant Narasimhan hinted that Novartis was a multimillion dollar pharmaceutical company that had been in existence for over two decades and was based in Switzerland. It also provides quality and affordable drugs. 

Dr Narasimhan said the drug, Hydroxyurea was one of the world’s most effective drug for the management and treatment of sickle cell anemia manufactured by Novartis. The drug reduces the pains in patients with the disease and increases their Haemoglobin level.
Dr Narasimhan assured that the company was working very hard to ensure broad access of hydroxyurea to Ghana at all times. He said it was the wish of the company to make the drug cheaper and affordable, scale up new born screening and also to bring in the latest technology of treating the SCD.

He added that the company had so far delivered more than 20,000 treatments of the drug to Ghana and was committed to delivering up to 60,000 by the end of the year.

“Ghana was the first African country to ensure that access to Hydroxyurea and its associated treatment costs were granted through the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to every Ghanaian who had the sickle cell anemia disease. By this, Ghana becomes the first African country to commit to offering the global standard of care for their people living with the sickle cell disease’’, he emphasised.

The CEO of the company was accompanied by the President of Sickle Cell Foundation of Ghana, a Hematologist Professor Kwaku Ohene-Frimpong, Mr Paolu Tubertini, CEO of Olon Company based in Italy, a manufacturer of an active ingredient used in manufacturing Hydroxyurea, Patrice Matchaba, Head of Global Health Novartis and some other dignitaries.

Present during the occasion were the Chief Nursing Officer 37 military hospital, some Senior Officers and personnel of the facility and parents and some children with the SCD.