Angola Sickle Cell Initiative (ASCI)

Partnership objectives

The Angola Sickle Cell Initiative (ASCI), a public-private partnership of the Angola Ministry of Health, the Baylor College of Medicine International Pediatric AIDS Initiative (BIPAI), Texas Children’s Hospital and Chevron, and Bristol-Myers Squibb, is a comprehensive sickle cell anemia program that provides screening, diagnosis, care, treatment, monitoring and evaluation, research, capacity building, community mobilization, and health professional training in Angola. 

In June 2016, ASCI teamed up with Bristol-Myers Squibb to provide to provide children with sickle cell disease in Angola with an effective medication to which many patients in the country have lacked access.

Sickle cell disease is an inherited disorder in which red blood cells become irregularly shaped. Sickle cell disease is an inherited disorder in which red blood cells become irregularly shaped. Copyright BMS

What are the health needs and challenges?

Sickle cell disease is an inherited disorder in which red blood cells become irregularly shaped. These sickle-shaped cells can get stuck in small blood vessels, which can slow or block blood flow and oxygen to parts of the body, resulting in painful episodes, serious infections, chronic anemia, damage to body organs and stroke, among other complications. 

Angola has one of the world's highest rates of the genetic blood condition with up to 10,000 babies born with the disease each year. By some estimates, up to 50 percent of these children die before five years of age. 

Description of partnership activities and how they address needs and challenges

Droxia (hydroxyurea) is a potentially life-altering medication that reduces the frequency of painful crises and the need for blood transfusions in sickle cell patients. However, most patients in Angola have not had access to hydroxyurea.

The partnership with Bristol-Myers Squibb will specifically provide thousands of Angolan children regular access to Droxia. This new five-year demonstration program is intended to build understanding of the effectiveness of treating children in resource-limited settings and to establish the cost benefits to the healthcare systems.

Bristol-Myers Squibb will provide Droxia for up to 1,200 children during the first two years of the program, increasing this to up to 4,100 after that pilot period. The program will launch in Luanda and Cabinda and later expand to additional sites. Last year, Bristol-Myers Squibb made an initial donation of Droxia to the Angola Sickle Cell Initiative.

The Angola Sickle Cell Initiative will provide medical care and management of the drug to children in the treatment program. The Angolan Ministry of Health has committed to the continued treatment of all the children on hydroxyurea when they reach 10 years old.

Summary of impact and forward looking information

The Angola Sickle Cell Initiative (ASCI) has been in place in Angola since 2011. Before its launch, newborns were not screened for the disease. Since 2011, more than 150,000 babies have been screened and more than 1,700 babies and children are now in care and treatment. 

ASCI also includes an education and training component. More than 1,500 Angolans have been trained through the program, including local physicians, nurses, laboratory technicians, phlebotomists, social workers and research coordinators.

Leaders of this new treatment initiative with Bristol-Myers Squibb hope to demonstrate over the five years the health benefits and cost effectiveness of a hydroxyurea treatment program for infants with sickle cell disease, and use patient data and outcomes as the foundation for an advocacy plan to provide treatment to all children in Angola and throughout the continent. Hydroxyurea currently has generic status and is on the World Health Organization List of Essential Medicines. 

Measurement of progress towards objectives 

Estimated overall value of partnership:

  • $12 million

Estimated amount of people impacted:

  • >150,000 babies screened for sickle cell disease
  • >1,700 babies and children enrolled in care
  • >330 babies and children receiving hydroxyurea
  • >1,500 Angolan personnel trained

Videos

Angola Sickle Cell Initiative

Partnership information

Company(ies) Bristol-Myers Squibb

Partner(s) Angola Ministry of Health, Baylor College of Medicine, Chevron, Texas Children's Hospital

Type of Partner(s) Academia / Hospitals, Government, Other Business

Therapeutic Focus Non-Communicable Diseases

Disease(s) Sickle Cell Anemia

Program Type(s) Availability of Treatment - Product Donations, Health System Infrastructure - Outreach & Medical Services, Health System Infrastructure - Training, Prevention Programs - Awareness & Outreach

Region(s) Sub-Saharan Africa

Number of Countries 1

Country(ies) Angola

Start Date 2011

Anticipated completion date Ongoing

« provide treatment to all children in Angola and throughout the continent. Hydroxyurea currently has generic status and is on the World Health Organization List of Essential Medicines. »

Mr. John Damonti, vice president of corporate philanthropy at Bristol-Myers Squibb and president of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation