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Gov’t to Increase Access to Non- Communicable Disease Medicines

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Dr. Diana Atwine, the permanent secretary ministry of health (M) with a team from Navarro's Access after signing the MOU

The Government of Uganda has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Novartis Access, to increase patients’ access to treatment for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).

A statement from Dr. Diana Atwine, the permanent secretary ministry of health, shows that the first batch of drugs will soon be delivered.

“A basket of fifteen high-quality medicines targeting four key NCDs – cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory illnesses, and breast cancer – will be availed countrywide,” reads part of the statement dated July 5.

The first order will include the following drugs across all key NCDs: Valsartan (hypertension), Amlodipine (hypertension and heart failure), Vildagliptin (diabetes), Amoxicillin Dispersible tablets (respiratory infections), Salbutamol (asthma), and Letrozole (breast cancer).

The  MoU stipulates that  these treatments will be provided to Government at a cost of $1 USD per treatment per month supplied through the National Medical Stores and Joint Medical Stores.

According to the statement, the agreement “will also cover capacity-building activities for medical practitioners as well as sensitization of the public in prevention and early detection of NCDs.”

The drugs will be available at the public health facilities before end of the year.

Uganda is facing a significant rise in Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) as a result of urbanization and many other factors.

A National NCD risk factor survey conducted in 2014 showed that one in every four adults in Uganda suffers from a Non-Communicable Disease.

Furthermore, the survey revealed that screening for cancer of the cervix, the leading cause of cancer death in Uganda, was only 10% among women aged 30-49 years while 10% of Ugandans aged 18-69 years have at least three risk factors for NCDs with 20% aged 45-69 years having more than three risk factors.

Some of the common risk factors identified in this survey as contributing to this escalating NCD epidemic in Uganda were Obesity, tobacco use and poor nutrition.

Uganda will become the fourth country in Africa alongside Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia to roll out Novartis Access, an initiative to enhance access to healthcare for patients in the lower to emerging middle income classes.

The public is advised to take full advantage of this initiative and present themselves at health facilities for early diagnosis of NCDs, allowing for early treatment and better disease outcomes.

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