The Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Health is to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Novartis a Swiss Multinational Pharmaceutical Company based in Basel, Switzerland, to improve Health services delivery especially in the fight against Sickle cell.
According to Dr Charles Kiyaga, the National Coordinator for sickle cell program at the Ministry of Health the partnership will enable Ugandans battling with the genetic diseases accessing cheap health services from selected government Regional Referral Hospitals.
“This new public-private partnership aims to improve the diagnosis and treatment of people with sickle cell disease in Uganda a new drug being manufactured by the Pharmaceutical company will be accessible to the public in the four regional hospitals at a cheaper price,” said Kiyaga.
In this arrangement, the pharmaceutical company will be supplying to the Ministry of Health drug called Hydroxyurea which is considered to be strong in controlling the symptoms of sickle cell.
This drug has been available in the country but it has been only accessed through private hospitals which makes it very expensive.
The drug which was registered as an indication of Sickle cell last year will be procured and supplied in the regional hospitals of Jinja, Lira Gulu among other hospitals.
According to Kiyaga the deal will be signed on Wednesday this week at the Ministry of Health.
Apart from supporting the supply of the drugs, the deal will also address other challenges that the Ministry is facing in mitigation of sickle cell problem that includes, Advocacy, Research among others.
“This partnership will help us to carry out advocacy in collaboration with additional partners to help reduce the burden of Sickle cell and help ensure programs’ long term sustainability,” he told East African Business Week.
The Burden of the Disease in Uganda
According to statistics from the Ministry of Health, each year, close to 20,000 babies are born with sickle cell complications and about 80% of them die before their fifth birthday.
Although the Government committed to ensuring that children born with this complication get access to cheap health services, the public should also wake up and play their role.
According to Dr Nicholas Nanyenya, a Programme Officer for Sickle Cell at the Ministry of Health the public should test for sickle cell to determine whether they are carriers or not and help reduce the sickle cell prevalence in the country.
BY SAMUEL NABWIISO