Society for Family Health (SFH) has signed an agreement with pharmaceutical firm Novartis to distribute a portfolio up to 14 medications to treat chronic diseases at costs as low as $2.21 (around N802) per patient a month.
Medication for breast cancer, diabetes, blood pressure, hypertension and antibiotics are included in the Novartis Access portfolio expected to go into effect in November.
SFH will provide patients the medicines through health facilities in a pilot scheme in eight states of the country, targeting a total of five million people.
A separate health coverage is expected to be rolled out under the agreement latest January 2019.
The portfolio, covering noncommunicable diseases like cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, respiratory illnesses, and breast cancer, covers the world’s most frequently prescribed medicines.
The World Health Organisation estimates a one-in-five probability of dying from one of the four main noncommunicable diseases between ages 30 and 70.
“Nigeria is increasingly affected by the burden of non-communicable diseases as lifestyles and habits become more sedentary,” said Sir Bright Ekweremadu, SFH managing director, in a statement released by both organisations.
“We have been working for more than 30 years to help Nigerians, particularly the poor and most vulnerable, to live healthier lives including by improving access to essential health services. This is part of the solution to the challenges of the poor who are most at risk of NCDs.”
Some 24 in 100 deaths are due to noncommunicable diseases. Diseases of the heart and blood vessels account for seven in 100 deaths, cancer three in 100; two percent of deaths is due to diabetes, and another one percent due to chronic respiratory diseases.
An advancing middle class and increasing urbanisation has been cited as driving lifestyle choices that increase the risk of noncommunicable diseases, including obesity and smoking. More than three million adults use tobacco daily.
“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.”
Nigeria is the fifth African country—after Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Cameroon—to sign on to distribute Novartis Access agreement.