Improving access to hepatitis and breast cancer medicines in the Cote d'Ivoire

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Expanded partnership with the government in the Côte d'Ivoire improves access to treatments for hepatitis and breast cancer for people with low incomes. Patients pay only a minimal portion of the cost, with the remainder covered by us and the government.  Agreement builds upon the existing National Programme for the fight against viral hepatitis and national programmes against cancer. We are working with the government to provide a fully comprehensive disease management approach.

Challenge

Africa has a young and rapidly growing population. The continent is now the second most populated in the world with over one billion people. In Sub-Saharan Africa, economic growth has averaged 5% in the past decade, a trend that is expected to continue. Poverty and ill-health, however, remain persistent problems in some countries.

Côte d'Ivoire is a lower-middle income country with a population of around 24 million. The prevalence of hepatitis B is high at around 13%, and about 2% in hepatitis C, according to the World Health Organisation. Breast cancer is the leading cancer in women, and is increasing steadily. About 2,300 new cases are diagnosed each year, and more than half of these women will not survive their disease.

Two of our medicines, Herceptin for the treatment of HER2-positive breast cancer and Pegasys for the treatment of viral hepatitis B and C, are available however, as patients often need to pay out of their own pocket, affordability is a significant barrier to receiving treatment.  Additionally, the health of many patients is further impacted due to late presentation as a result of low awareness of these diseases.

What we're doing

In December 2014  together with the Cote d'Ivoire Ministry of Health we extended our partnership to improve access to our medicines for viral hepatitis B and C, and breast cancer over a five-year period. Programmes developed under the partnership will provide a comprehensive national response to the problems posed by these diseases.

Low-income patients will pay a minimal portion of the drug cost, with us and the government covering the remainder. Meanwhile, we will continue to support the government’s national programmes in areas of awareness, diagnosis, training and access to medicines.

The agreement builds on the National Programme for the Fight Against Viral Hepatitis and National Programme Against Cancer that were established by the government in 2008. These campaigns, supported by us, focus on improving health awareness, prevention and providing state-of-the-art training to healthcare professionals. They also aim to improve access to diagnosis, offering free HER2 testing through the public healthcare system, as well as breast cancer and hepatitis screening for patients in both the public and private care systems. Our aim is to provide a fully comprehensive disease management approach.

Our impact

Our partnership in Cote d'Ivoire aims to treat an additional 3,000 patients infected with hepatitis and to help about 1,000 women with breast cancer who may not normally be treated, over five years.

The agreement further supports our approach in Sub-Saharan Africa, where we are partnering with stakeholders to improve patient access to healthcare from diagnosis to treatment.

In Cameroon, for example, approximately 20% of the population, or 4.5 million people, suffer from hepatitis C while 10% are affected by hepatitis B out of an estimated 22 million inhabitants. Since 2012 we have partnered with the government to improve access to hepatitis treatment, to increase awareness and screening campaigns and to train healthcare professionals. In November 2014, we announced with the Ministry of Health a new agreement for hepatitis treatments which will improve access for increased numbers of patients.

Since 2007 we have partnered with the Lalla Salma Association Against Cancer (ALSC) to raise awareness for the growing challenge of cancer in Western Africa, by cooperating on medical training, epidemiological studies, and particularly in cancer registries and identifying projects for improving cancer care capacities in Western Africa.

In 2016 formal agreements (memorandums of understanding) were signed with several Sub-Saharan countries, including Ghana and Kenya, following the first agreement with Côte d’Ivoire. The aim of these agreements is to improve access to timely and precise diagnostic services and treatments to make high-quality care more widely available.

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Tags: Access to healthcare, Sustainability, Africa