Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) – or chronic diseases such as cancers, cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes – are a significant and growing healthcare challenge. Together they are responsible for 38 million deaths a year worldwide, a number that is projected to increase dramatically over the next two decades.1,2 The Access Accelerated initiative aims to tackle this problem.

While NCDs affect people of all ages and from all geographies, the burden is most felt in low and lower-middle income countries (LICs and LMICs), where 80% of deaths from NCDs occur.This is because many of these countries face significant challenges that limit disease awareness and access to diagnosis and care.4 As a result, poorer patients often receive only the treatment that is available or affordable, rather than the treatment that is optimal.4 In fact, some patients may not even reach a clinic capable of providing appropriate treatment.4

Four key factors need to be addressed to improve access to the right care for NCDs in LICs and LMICs:

  • Awareness of disease and symptoms is essential for screening and early detection.
  • Diagnosis of disease can be complex, but is vital to ensuring the right treatment choice is made.
  • Healthcare capacity requires trained teams working together with the right equipment to provide the best chance for successful treatment.
  • Funding is needed for investment in healthcare and reimbursement of medicines and tests in order that patients can be protected from financial burden.

Our innovative medicines and diagnostic tests are only meaningful if they reach the people who need them, when they need them – no matter where they live. This is why the Access Accelerated initiative is so important.
Severin Schwan, Roche CEO

Introducing the Access Accelerated initiative

Improving global access to healthcare has always been a core commitment of our organisation, but we recognise that a challenge of this scale and scope cannot be overcome alone. This is why we are proud to support and co-lead the Access Accelerated initiative. 

Listen to our CEO Severin Schwan introducing the initiative and why he is so excited about it:

Access Accelerated brings together 22 leading biopharmaceutical companies with partners such as the World Bank, the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and governments. The partners have committed to address global barriers to the diagnosis, treatment and care of people with NCDs over many years.

Working in partnership, we aim to improve patients’ lives by:

  • Improving access to innovative medicines for the treatment of NCDs
  • Developing a roadmap for how to treat NCDs in LICs and LMICs in a sustainable way
  • Building effective partnerships to discuss and advance policy, regulatory, financing and delivery reform

This initiative reflects our own systematic and comprehensive approach to access, and involves not only expanding our own existing access programmes, but establishing new meaningful disease-specific collaborations.

Our initial focus: increasing access to sustainable cancer care

More than 60% of the world’s total new annual cancer cases occur in LICs and LMICs in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America, with these regions accounting for 70% of cancer deaths worldwide.5

Cancer is a prime example of a NCD for which disease awareness, screening programmes and early, correct diagnosis are paramount to optimal treatment. A late cancer diagnosis generally means that the disease has already reached its advanced stages, where curative or life-extending treatment may no longer be an option.5

Therefore, access to cancer care is a key initial focus of our partnership. Although cancer has a lower incidence in LICs and LMICs compared to that in higher-income countries, survival rates are also much lower, largely because of delays in diagnosis leading to presentation with advanced disease.4

As part of the initial effort, the Access Accelerated partnership will provide seed funding for the launch of the UICC’s City Cancer Challenge (C/Can 2025). C/Can 2025 aims to ensure effective, sustainable cancer care delivery models in select cities of over one million inhabitants around the world. The organisations involved will be engaged in the design, planning and implementation of cancer treatment solutions, and cities will be encouraged and supported to take the lead on improving the health of their residents and reducing inequalities in access to quality cancer care.6

As global leaders in oncology, we feel responsible and empowered to lead the partnership in the efforts to bring cancer medicines to the people who need them, when they need them.

Learn more about our approach to improving access to medicines for non-communicable diseases:

Access to innovation in cancer care

We can make a big difference by working with developing countries to overcome local access hurdles.

Increasing access to healthcare

Roche's commitment to sustainable healthcare.


  1. WHO. Noncommunicable diseases factsheet 2015. Available at: Last accessed January 2017.
  2. WHO. The Global Economic Burden of Non-communicable Diseases (September 2011). Available at: Last accessed January 2017. 
  3. WHO. Global status report on noncommunicable diseases 2010. Available at: Last accessed January 2017. 
  4. INCTR. Cancer in Developing Countries. Available at: Last accessed January 2017.
  5. WHO. Cancer factsheet 297. Available at: Last accessed January 2017.
  6. UICC. C/Can 2025: City Cancer Challenge. Available at: Last accessed January 2017.

Tags: Society, Patients