SFH, Novartis Social Business Fight Disease

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By Ugo Aliogo

The Society for Family Health (SFH) and Novartis Social Business have signed an agreement to implement Novartis Access in Nigeria.

Through the partnership, SFH will distribute Novartis Access medicines to treat chronic diseases to the vulnerable populations in health facilities and in the hospitals and clinics SFH is working with in the country.

According a statement made available to THISDAY by the SFH Media Relations, Donald Etim, the collaboration also included capacity-building activities and community awareness.

The statement explained that the Novartis Access portfolio include high-quality medicines targeting four key chronic diseases, also known as non-communicable diseases (NCDs): cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, respiratory illnesses, and breast cancer.

The statement said the portfolio covered the world’s most frequently prescribed medicines for chronic diseases.

The Managing Director of SFH, Sir Bright Ekweremadu, said Nigeria was increasingly affected by the burden of non-communicable diseases as lifestyles and habits become more sedentary.

He added: “We have been working for more than 30 years to help Nigerians, particularly the poor and most vulnerable, to leave healthier lives including by improving access to essential health services. This collaboration with Novartis Social Business is part of the solution to the challenges of the poor who are most at risk of NCDs.”

 It was learnt from the statement Nigeria is facing many challenges to tackle its growing NCD burden. 

According to the statement: “NCDs are estimated to account for 24 per cent of deaths in the country as a whole. Cardiovascular diseases are the deadliest set of NCDs in the country, responsible for seven percent of deaths. Cancer accounts for three per cent of deaths; diabetes accounts for two percent of deaths; chronic respiratory diseases account for one per cent of deaths; and other NCDs account for eleven percent.

“The country’s advancing middle-class and increasing urbanisation is driving an increase in lifestyle factors which pose high risk for several NCDs, including obesity and tobacco use. 8.9 per cent of Nigerian adults are obese2 and more than 3.5 million adults use tobacco daily – a smoking prevalence of 17.4 per cent3.”