Novartis Partners with Kenyan Government, MSH and Other Partners to Deliver Affordable Medicines for Chronic Diseases in Lower Income Countries

Delivering Access: First Launch in Kenya 

This week Novartis representatives travel to Kenya to officially launch Novartis Access in collaboration with the Kenyan government and other partners. The program is a first for the industry and is a novel social business model that aims to deliver affordable medicines for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in lower income countries.

While the goal of the access program is to be active in 30 low- and middle- income nations in the coming years, Kenya will be one of the three countries paving the path for expansion.

Learn more

Follow our trip through Kenya for an intimate look at the unique challenges of treating NCDs in a lower income country, from early detection and diagnosis to education and distribution.


… And, we’re live!

Patients, healthcare providers, dignitaries and executives came together to commemorate the launch of Novartis Access in Kenya.

11:00 AM - This morning, in collaboration with the Kenyan government, the Kenyan Red Cross, the Kenyan Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Christian Health Association of Kenya, the Mission for Essential Drugs, the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority and Management Sciences for Health, Novartis Access officially launched in Nairobi.

The launch was commemorated by the signing of a memorandum of understanding, featuring a multi-pronged approach to addressing the rise of noncommunicable diseases in Kenya, including medicine distribution, raising disease awareness and strengthening healthcare systems.

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

The knowledge, expertise and motivation of governments, international aid networks, NGOs and local political and healthcare supporters are essential to execute this complex task.

Joerg Reinhardt, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Novartis


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

The program recognizes that health needs are shifting and aims to drive a step change in access to medicines in low- and low-middle-income countries. The successful implementation in Kenya will be essential in guiding the expansion to additional countries.

[MSH representatives speak with representatives of the Mission for Essential Drugs and Supplies (MEDS)]{Photo Credit: Matthew Saxton/MSH}MSH representatives speak with representatives of the Mission for Essential Drugs and Supplies (MEDS)Photo Credit: Matthew Saxton/MSH


Why Kenya? Why now?

Every year, noncommunicable diseases kill 38 million people. In Kenya, they account for 27% of all deaths.

1:00 PM – Forty years ago, we became operational in Kenya. Several decades later the global community launched a concerted effort to combat infectious diseases. And, more than a decade ago world leaders set forth a roadmap for a world free of NCDs.

This year, the WHO has launched a global action plan to reduce premature deaths from NCDs by 25% by 2025, and the Kenyan government has taken steps to prioritize NCD prevention and control. And we can understand why. The challenge is significant.

By 2030, NCDs are expected to contribute to more than 60% of all deaths in Kenya. Already they contribute to over 50% of inpatient hospital admissions and dominate the healthcare budget. The result is that the Kenyan healthcare system, and others like it, must manage a dual disease burden: both the growth of NCDs and the infectious disease challenge.

Importantly, the rise of chronic illness is also responsible for reducing productivity, curtailing economic growth and reinforcing poverty. In fact, NCDs kill more people of working age in low- and middle-income countries than in high-income countries. Breast cancer, for example, is the number one killer of women in Kenya between the ages of 35 and 55.

Perhaps more importantly, chronic illnesses share preventable risk factors that can be addressed head-on. But it is not only diet and lifestyle changes that contribute to the rise of NCDs. Other factors are at play as well, including rapid urbanization (half of Africa’s population are predicted to live in cities by 2030!), globalization and a growing, aging population.

What is most critical is to recognize the unique challenges faced by individual healthcare systems and to design programs tailored to their needs. In Kenya, we’re proud to have the history, partnerships and trust to pursue a new model. It’s ambitious, but we’re ready.