Society for Family Health (SFH) and Novartis Social Business have signed an agreement to assist Nigerians suffering from chronic non-commincable (NCD) diseases. These diseases are  cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, respiratory illnesses, and breast cancer.

    Under this partnership, according to a press release from SFH Media Relations Office, signed by Donald W. Etim, SHF will distribute Novartis Access medicines to treat chronic diseases to the poorest and the most vulnerable populations in health facilities and in the hospitals and clinics with which it is working throughout the country.

    The collaboration also includes capacity-building activities and community awareness.

    The Novartis Access portfolio includes high-quality medicines targeting four key chronic diseases, also known as non-communicable diseases (NCDs) namely, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, respiratory illnesses, and breast cancer. This portfolio covers the world’s most frequently prescribed medicines for chronic diseases.

    “Nigeria is increasingly affected by the burden of non-communicable diseases as lifestyles and habits become more sedentary,” said Sir Bright Ekweremadu, Managing Director of Society for Family Health, SFH. “We have been working for more than 30 years to help Nigerians, particularly the poor and most vulnerable, to leave healthier lives including by impr‐oving access to essential health services. This collaboration with Novartis Social Business is part of the solution to the challenges of the poor who are most at risk of NCDs.”

    Nigeria is facing many challenges to tackle its growing NCD burden. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) , the probability of dying due to one of the four main NCDs between the ages of 30 and 70 is 20 percent in Nigeria (as of 2014).

    NCDs are estimated to account for 24 percent of deaths in the country as a whole. Cardiovascular diseases are the deadliest set of NCDs in Nigeria, responsible for seven percent of deaths. Cancer accounts for three pe‐rcent of deaths; diabetes accounts for two percent of deaths; chronic respiratory diseases account for one percent of deaths; and other NCDs account for eleven percent.

    The country’s advancing middle-class and increasing urbanization are driving an increase in lifestyle factors which pose high risk for several NCDs, including obesity and tobacco use; 8.9 percent of Nigerian adults are obese and more than 3.5 million adults use tobacco daily – a smoking prevalence of 17.4 percent.

    “We are pleased to help Nigerian patients better manage their chronic conditions,” said Dr. Parfait Touré, Head of the West and Central African cluster for Novartis Social Business. “We believe new approaches such as our Novartis Access portfolio that bring governments, the private sector and social sector together are needed to expand access to medicines and healthcare delivery in our countries.”

    In Nigeria treatments will be offered to patients through SFH at a final cost of up to $2.21 per patient per month. Beyond medicines, the collaboration will also include activities to strengthen healthcare systems in Nigeria, for example by training healthcare professionals on NCD screening, diagnosis and treatment, quality assurance and by providing community education and awareness.

    The program will be implemented to start in eight states in Nigeria, potentially reaching more than five million patients.

    Nigeria becomes the fifth country in Africa (after Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Cameroon) to sign an agreement to distribute Novartis Access treatments against chronic diseases. First treatments will start reaching patients in the upcoming months.