Novartis Access and Kenya Red Cross join forces to combat chronic diseases

Partnership objectives

The aim of the partnership is to improve prevention, treatment and care for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Kenya.

Novartis Access program was launched in 2015 Novartis Access program was launched in 2015 Copyright Novartis

What are the health needs and challenges?

NCDs, mainly cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes, represent a leading threat to human health and development. According to the WHO's latest global status report on NCDs, NCDs are the world's biggest killers, causing an estimated 38 million deaths in 2012, with nearly three quarters of these deaths occurring in low and middle-income countries. 

In Kenya, 27% of deaths are due to NCDs. They account for around 50% of inpatient admissions and 40% of hospital deaths, dominating healthcare budgets. By 2030, NCDs are expected to contribute to approximately 60% of the total national mortality. 

Description of partnership activities and how they address needs and challenges

Over the next three years, the Kenya Red Cross will provide training to health workers and community volunteers, and screening will be increased at community and facility level for NCDs in Kenya. The Kenya Red Cross will purchase the Novartis Access portfolio to improve access to NCD prevention, treatment, care and support. This new partnership is part of the Novartis Access program, whereby Kenya was the first country to benefit from a portfolio of 15 affordable medicines in 2015. These medicines treat cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, respiratory illnesses and breast cancer.

The Novartis partnership with the Kenya Red Cross will focus on refugees living in the Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps where there are many cases of diabetes, hypertension, cancer and asthma. In 2013, there were around 27,000 medical consultations for NCDs in Dadaab, representing  3% of consultations, with 43% being for cardiovascular disease. 

This collaboration will ensure affordable medicines to the Level Five hospital in the camp managed by the Kenya Red Cross. Currently, the Kenya Red Cross supports and follows up 151 patients living with NCDs. With the support of its partners, the Kenya Red Cross will implement an NCD prevention and management program in Nyeri and Nairobi counties. It will focus on awareness-raising of risk factors, screening for early detection and it will also offer treatment, care and support. 

In conjunction with the 2015 launch of the Novartis access portfolio and to support effective treatment of chronic diseases in Kenya, Novartis partnered with the Kenyan Ministry of Health, the Kenyan Red Cross, the Kenyan Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), the Christian Health Association of Kenya (CHAK), Management Sciences for Health (MSH) and other key stakeholders. These collaborations support the healthcare system through measures such as reinforcing drug distribution channels and training healthcare workers to diagnose and treat chronic illnesses. Novartis is also collaborating with Boston University in the US to measure the impact on health in Kenya and steer ongoing development of Novartis Access. To find out more about the Novartis Access program, click here. 

Partnership information

Company(ies) Novartis

Partner(s) Kenya Red Cross

Type of Partner(s) NGOs

Therapeutic Focus Non-Communicable Diseases

Disease(s) Asthma, Cancer, Cardiovascular Diseases, Diabetes, Respiratory Diseases

Targeted Population(s) General population

Region(s) Sub-Saharan Africa

Number of Countries 1

Country(ies) Kenya

Start Date 2016

Anticipated completion date Ongoing