The government of Ghana, through the Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service and other allied agencies, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with global medicines company Novartis to create a new public-private partnership designed to improve the diagnoses and accelerate treatment for people with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD).
The MoU, makes Ghana the first African country to commit to offering the global standard of care for people with Sickle Cell Disease.
Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, the Minister for Health; Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, Director General of the Ghana Health Service; and Prof Kwaku Ohene-Frempong, President of the Sickle Cell Foundation of Ghana and Programme Coordinator of the Newborn Screening Programme for Sickle Cell Disease, signed on behalf of their various organisations, while Vas Narasimhan, CEO, signed on behalf of Novartis.
Approximately 80% of individuals with SCD globally are born in sub-Saharan Africa, and more than half of affected individuals die before the age of five due to preventable complications. In Ghana, it is estimated that 15,000 babies are born with sickle cell disease every year.
The GoG-Novartis partnership aims to improve and extend the lives of people with SCD through a comprehensive approach to screening and diagnosis; treatment and disease management; training and education; and elevating basic and clinical research and scientific capabilities.
Specifically, the partners will collaborate on field testing and implementation of SCD treatment guidelines, the establishment of centres of excellence across regions and the implementation of newborn screening at these centres.
Speaking after the announcement of the MoU on the sidelines of the ongoing 2019 edition of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Hon Agyemang-Manu expressed confidence that the collaboration would help provide improved health care and reduce preventable deaths.
“We are pleased to partner with the Sickle Cell Foundation and Novartis in order to address sickle cell disease in Ghana. We are committed to put SCD among the priorities on our national health agenda and to put the required resources behind it. Together, we can actively contribute to ending preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age, as set out in the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” he stated.
Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, Director General of the Ghana Health Service, expressed his deep appreciation for the collaboration, emphasising that the partnership with Novartis would have many benefits for persons with sickle cell disease, including a reduction in treatment costs and access to cutting edge research materials.
“Sickle Cell is an age-old disease that has led to many avoidable deaths over the years. This partnership will help the Ghana Health Service to tackle it head on, and also make its treatment affordable and sustainable.”