Oct 04, 2019

Cairo, 4 October 2019 – Novartis Pharma S.A.E (Novartis Egypt) organized an educational forum for healthcare practitioners as part of its efforts to support the Egyptian Ministry of Health (MoH)’s efforts to raise awareness of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). The ministry’s efforts centre on his Excellency, the President of Egypt’s healthcare initiative “100 Million Seha” which seeks to screen Egyptians for NCDs and provide the latest insights on effective diagnostic, treatment and disease management procedures for hypertensive and diabetic patients across the country.

On hand to share their expertise with attendees were Dr Galal El Shesheny, Deputy Head of the 100 Million Seha Initiative and Assistant to the Minister of Health for Public Health, Dr Hisham El Hefnawy, Former Head of the National institute of Diabetes and Endocrinology, Dr Mohamed Osama, Head of the National Heart Institute and Dr. Mohamed Khattab, Professor of Diabetes at the Al Kasr Elainy.

“Novartis Egypt is honoured to support the MoH’s awareness efforts in general and the “100 Million Seha” campaign in particular. Today’s event represents the educational aspect of this collaboration and one we very much view as the basis for all other activities in this context. Educating those who will in turn have direct contact with patients across all governorates is essential. Novartis is 100%-committed to facilitating the exchange of expertise for the benefit of Egyptian society,” Dr Basyouni Abuseif, Novartis Egypt Country President said.

NCDs, which include cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, and chronic respiratory diseases, are currently the leading national cause of death in Egypt, with the World Health Organization (WHO) estimating that NCDs account for 82% of all deaths in Egypt and 67% of premature deaths1.

According to the International Diabetes Federation, there are over eight million diabetes patients in Egypt2, while the WHO estimates that around 30% of Egyptians suffer from hypertension, mainly due to a far-above-average salt intake3.

Egypt launched the three-phase 100 Million Seha campaign in 2018 to detect and treat Hepatitis C and NCDs among Egyptians and has successfully screened 50 million citizens for the aforementioned diseases since it began4. The campaign was also expanded to include all foreigners living in Egypt including refugees and asylum-seekers5.

“Our priority will always be the development of new medicines for both widespread and rare diseases, but we also invest time and effort into studying new treatment protocols involving existing medications, in the hope of optimizing treatment options for patients on a large-scale or individualized basis,” Dr Abuseif added.

Dr. Galal El Shesheny, Deputy Head of the 100 Million Seha Initiative and Assistant to the Minister of Health for Public Health, said: "NCDs diseases have four major risk factors: tobacco consumption of all kinds, physical inactivity, unhealthy food consumption, and excess alcohol consumption."

"The 100 Million Seha initiative represents a medical breakthrough, with the largest number of people ever screened for diseases over the course of its implementation. Instrumental in the success of this initiative has been the use of an electronic system of registration and referral for citizens to coordinate and track diagnosis and treatment processes. This system has also helped establish a comprehensive database and a health map for noncommunicable diseases. This greatly contributes to the development and application of scientifically sound healthcare policies that rely on concrete data covering all segments of Egyptian society,” he added.

Dr. Mohamed Khattab, Professor of Internal Medicine and Diabetes at the Kasr Al-Aini Faculty of Medicine said: "As has been published and announced by scientific societies and international organizations, diabetes is seen as an epidemic of our era, with a large proportion of existing diabetes cases remaining undiagnosed during their early phases. This is due to a common misconception that diabetes is diagnosed based on symptoms, while in reality most people with type 2 diabetes have none early on their disease progression. The only conclusive way to detect diabetes is through clinical testing. The 100 million Seha campaign has significantly contributed to early diabetes detection and, in my view, this initiative will reveal the real scope of diabetes prevalence among Egyptians.”

"It is important to note that early treatment for diabetes - as many studies have shown - reduces the risk of developing diabetes complications affecting ocular blood vessels, the kidneys, peripheral nerves, the brain and the heart and minimizes the risk to lower limb arteries. The early introduction of multifaceted treatment is essential in halting disease progression. This has been clearly demonstrated by the Verify study published recently at the annual conference of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Barcelona, Spain, which indicated that the early combined use of metformin and vildagliptin reduces the rate of disease acceleration and prolongs the duration of the treatment phase that precedes injection therapies with insulin etc.,” he added.

Novartis has recently directed its research towards modernizing diabetes treatment, evaluating the long-term efficacy and safety of an early combination treatment strategy with metformin plus vildagliptin (dipeptidyl peptidase-4 [DPP-4] inhibitor) compared to the traditional stepwise approach with metformin as initial therapy followed by vildagliptin, added at the time of metformin failure. Results presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) Annual Meeting in Barcelona and published simultaneously in The Lancet demonstrated that the early combination treatment strategy was indeed superior to the existing protocol.

About Novartis

Novartis is reimagining medicine to improve and extend people’s lives. As a leading global medicines company, we use innovative science and digital technologies to create transformative treatments in areas of great medical need. In our quest to find new medicines, we consistently rank among the world’s top companies investing in research and development. Novartis products reach more than 750 million people globally and we are finding innovative ways to expand access to our latest treatments. About 105 000 people of more than 140 nationalities work at Novartis around the world. Find out more at https://www.novartis.com/.

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