“A medicine is only as good as the system that delivers it,” said Dr. Harald Nusser, Head of Novartis Social Business, when Novartis joined forces with the American Society for Clinical Pathology and the American Cancer Society in 2017 to fight cancer, including breast cancer, in Africa.
Approximately 650 000 people develop cancer annually in Africa, and about 510 000 cancer deaths happen each year as a consequence of lack of access to treatment, as of 20151. The challenge of access to quality cancer care in Africa is complex and involves multiple factors beyond the treatment itself. For instance, in Ethiopia, which has a population of more than 100 million people, there are currently less than 10 oncologists. Other challenges relate to medical equipment, training of healthcare workers, and disease stigma, according to Dr. Wondimagegn Tigineh, head of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Black Lion Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (Watch the video).
The programs established by this partnership in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda aim to provide patients with rapid cancer diagnostics as well as appropriate care and treatment – crucial pillars to help countries address cancer care.
Funded by Novartis, work on the ground will include building healthcare capacity for immunohistochemistry analysis in six hospital laboratories in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. Further, training of healthcare professionals will also be organized to ensure quality processes in the transportation of biopsy samples and the administration of chemotherapy.
In some parts of the world, the infrastructure needs to be built first. In others, the infrastructure exists and yet there are still roadblocks to receiving treatment.
In some parts of the world, the infrastructure first needs to be created before being able to provide the necessary treatment. In others, the infrastructure exists and yet there are still roadblocks to receiving care - as was the case for patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). To help ensure these patients receive the treatment they need, Novartis and The Max Foundation took an existing access program and created a new, independent, patient-centered model. Called CMLPath to CareTM, this humanitarian access-to-treatment system evolved from a program established in 2002. CMLPath to CareTM is based on the insights gained from working with people in specific countries’ healthcare systems to address the challenges of delivering care to individual patients. Novartis provides funding and drug donation support, while The Max Foundation delivers treatment to patients, psychological support and manages all aspects of supply chain management.
Appropriate care and treatment are both crucial pillars to help countries address cancer care.
This global healthcare partnership with The Max Foundation is part of the long-term focus of Novartis to help bring CML care to those in need. This groundbreaking initiative is one of the broadest cancer programs led by a patient-centered nongovernmental organization (NGO); treatment and support are provided to patients at no cost and the program is implemented in nearly 70 countries worldwide.
As we continue to work to develop therapies for life-threatening diseases, we will also strive to ensure our treatments are accessible to those who need it most. Together with our partners, we are working tirelessly to connect patients to care, resources and each other. Collaborations like these are essential to improve cancer care around the globe.