Enabling Governments to Provide Access to Health for Chronic Diseases: Novartis, MSH, and Partners Officially Launch Novartis Access in Kenya

Enabling Governments to Provide Access to Health for Chronic Diseases: Novartis, MSH, and Partners Officially Launch Novartis Access in Kenya

 {Photo credit: Novartis}Official signing of the memorandum of understanding at the launch event, held at Kenyatta National Hospital.Photo credit: Novartis

Novartis launched Novartis Access, a novel social business program, in collaboration with the Kenyan government, Management Sciences for Health (MSH), and other partners, on Thursday, October 15, at the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH).

Novartis Access is an industry first: “a novel social business model that aims to deliver affordable medicines for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) also known as chronic disease in lower income countries”.

MSH’s partnership with Novartis, announced in September, is to enable governments in low- and middle- countries, beginning in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Vietnam, to provide better care for their chronic diseases population in need.

Kenyan Dignitaries Describe Country-Led Efforts on Chronic Diseases

The launch event kicked off October 15, at 10 am, East Africa Time, preceded by a tour of KNH. The launch was high level, graced by the presence of Kenyan dignitaries.

Lily Koros, chief executive officer, KNH, provided welcoming remarks and highlighted the key role KNH plays in managing NCDs as the pre­mier teaching and referral hospital.

Dr. Abbas Gullet, Secretary General, Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS), provided an overture and overview of NCDs in Kenya and the role his organization can play. KRCS has extensive experience working with communities including those in the remote areas of Kenya.

Dr. James Nyikal, a member of Parliamentary Health Committee and a well-recognized doctor, described the role of his committee in driving the policy and legal frameworks for health, in addition to determining budget allocation for health. Nyikal urged the Ministry of Health (MOH) leadership to develop a policy framework on NCDs and present it to Parliament for approval.

H.E. Jack Ranguma, chairman of the Health and Biotechnology committee, Council of Governors, provided an overview of NCDs in Kenya from a county perspective. He urged the government and partners in attendance to engage counties and communities in the NCD agenda in line with devolution with a goal of achieving universal health access.

Dr. Nicholas Muraguri, Director of Medical Services, MOH, highlighted that any support to the NCD agenda should be anchored on the recently launched Kenya NCD strategy (Download PDF).

H.E. Ralf Heckler, Swiss Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the Republic of Kenya, talked about “Swiss Business: Pharmaceutical Industry and the Partnership Model in Healthcare”. Heckler recommended Kenya for the good bilateral and multilateral relationships with Switzerland and other UN member states in supporting implementation of global strategies. He cited that the pharmaceutical industry contributes to 60 percent of the Swiss GDP and that the Novartis Access initiative is in line with the UHC agenda of increasing access to quality safe and efficacious essential medicines.

[Representatives of MSH, Novartis, and Mission for Essential Drugs and Supplies (MEDS) on Novartis Access launch day, Kenya.] {Photo Credit: Matthew Saxton/MSH}Representatives of MSH, Novartis, and Mission for Essential Drugs and Supplies (MEDS) on Novartis Access launch day, Kenya.Photo Credit: Matthew Saxton/MSH

Novartis Board Chair and Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Health Give Key Notes

The Chairman of the Novartis Board of Directors, Dr. Joerg Reinhardt, and Kenya Cabinet Secretary for Health, Honorable James Macharia, gave key note speeches.

Reinhardt highlighted Novartis’ past health initiatives in Kenya, including the Novartis Malaria Initiative,  and announced the key partners for Novartis Access, including the MOH, KRCS, Christian Health Association of Kenya (CHAK), Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), Mission for Essential Drugs and Supplies (MEDS), and MSH.

Macharia thanked Novartis for supporting the Kenya Health agenda and all the delegates for the key roles they were playing in supporting health services at national and county levels. He welcomed the Novartis Access initiative, stating that it is timely and will enable more Kenyans to access NCDs medicines. The Novartis portfolio is being offered to the Kenyan government, non-governmental organizations, and other public-sector healthcare providers for USD 1 per treatment, per month.

Macharia also mentioned the risk factors to NCDs, and reiterated the government commitment to managing them. For example, currently, 70 percent of the health budget is allocated to NCDs, including cancer.

After the speeches, the top MOH and Novartis leadership signed a Partnership Memorandum of Understanding, officially unveiling Novartis Access.

Novartis Access Representatives Visit Warehouse and Laboratory Facility

[Dr. John Chimumbwa, at the Mission for Essential Drugs and Supplies (MEDS) facility.] {Photo Credit: Matthew Saxton/MSH}Dr. John Chimumbwa, at the Mission for Essential Drugs and Supplies (MEDS) facility.Photo Credit: Matthew Saxton/MSH

In the afternoon, representatives from Novartis, Sandoz, MEDS, CHAK, KCCB, and MSH visited the MEDS facility, touring the warehouse and the World Health Organization (WHO) pre-qualified quality control laboratory. The tour was followed by partner updates from MEDS, CHAK, KCCB, Novartis and MSH. 

In his role as MSH’s Country Project Director, Health Commodities and Services Management (Kenya), John Chimumbwa spoke about MSH’s partnership with Novartis on commodity tracking to ensure supply chain integrity. Chimumbwa emphasized the need for supply chain optimization, transparency and accountability, institutional and human resource capacity, and timely sharing of information and use for decision making.

Harald Nusser, Global Head, Novartis Access said that Novartis Access will initially focus on the Public Sector (KEMSA), faith-based channels (MEDS, CHAK, KCCB), and NGO-based distribution (KRCS).  Nusser outlined the main areas of collaboration as: integrity of the distribution chain, capacity building, and measurement of social impact.

After the presentations, the MEDS and Novartis leadership signed a Partnership Memorandum of Understanding.

MSH is thrilled to partner with Novartis and others on this country-owned, and country-led initiative.

Learn more about Novartis Access

See highlights from Novartis’ UNGA week event


Novartis hosted an event in New York City during UN General Assembly week in September called “Well-Being for All: Innovation for Society’s Biggest Health Challenges”. MSH’s President and CEO Jonathan D. Quick, MD, MPH, presented on access to medicines for chronic diseases, while Novartis leadership announced the forthcoming Novartis Access launch, H.E. Margaret Kenyatta, First Lady of the Republic of Kenya spoke about the importance of stronger public-private partnerships to improve access to health in Kenya, and panelists discussed key innovations for ensuring health, moderated by BBC’s Jon Sopel.

Click here for @MSHHealthImpact recap of "Well-being for Health" on Storify