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Novartis Sickle Cell Disease Program Extended To Uganda, Tanzania

Novartis and its partners have announced the expansion of the Africa Sickle Cell Disease program to East Africa with the signature of two new memoranda of understanding with the Ministries of Health of Uganda and Tanzania.

The program, first launched in Ghana in November 2019, aims to improve and extend the lives of people with sickle cell disease (SCD) in sub-Saharan Africa, with plans to reach a total of 10 countries by 2022.

“In this time of worldwide uncertainty, it is even more important to support people living with chronic conditions like sickle cell disease,” said Dr. Patrice Matchaba, Group Head of Global Health & Corporate Responsibility at Novartis. “We are excited to join forces with the Ministries of Health of Uganda and Tanzania and local partners to reimagine treatment and care for people with sickle cell disease.”

Within the scope of these public-private partnerships, Novartis and its partners have agreed to explore collaboration opportunities aimed at tackling the growing burden of SCD in their countries.

The partners intend to develop and implement a comprehensive approach that includes making diagnosis and treatment available, accessible and affordable for patients and their families; promoting scientific research, training and education; and pursuing robust monitoring and evaluation of the program. As a next step, Novartis plans to work with the respective Ministries of Health to further define the scope of each collaboration and explore opportunities for additional partnerships.

In Ghana, the program is already making progress with more than 2000 patients being treated with hydroxyurea in 11 treatment centers across the country. To date, Novartis has delivered more than 60 000 treatments of hydroxyurea in Ghana, helping ensure SCD patients have uninterrupted access to treatment during the global pandemic.

At the same time, Novartis has registered the medicine for the treatment of SCD in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. Hydroxyurea is a commonly used medicine for patients with SCD in developed countries, and is approved for use in both adults and children. A recent study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, indicates that hydroxyurea is effective and safe in children with SCD in sub-Saharan Africa and reduces the incidence of pain events (vaso-occlusive crises), malaria, blood transfusions, and death.

In addition, Novartis has signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Ghana with the intent to collaborate on promoting education, research, advocacy and capacity building to advance Ghana’s national health agenda to improve the health and well-being of people with SCD.

At the same time, we are continuing our efforts to develop a child-friendly formulation of hydroxyurea and have announced plans to conduct two clinical trials in Ghana and Kenya for its next-generation treatment for SCD, crizanlizumab. Crizanlizumab, a novel targeted biologic therapy, is approved in a number of countries to reduce the number of pain crises in people with SCD.

The trials are expected to start in 2020; this will be the first time that a biologic therapy, which is not a vaccine, enters multicenter clinical trials in sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa).

“As we fight the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa, we cannot lose sight of other health priorities for the region, including sickle cell disease,” said Dr. Charles Kiyaga, Sickle Cell Program Head at the Ministry of Health in Uganda. “Such partnerships between the public and private sector are necessary to help accelerate progress in SCD prevention and management for the benefit of the patients, their families and communities.”

Sickle cell disease is recognized by the World Health Organization as a public health priority and a neglected health problem in sub-Saharan Africa, which carries approximately 80% of the global disease burden.4 In countries in West, Central and East Africa, the prevalence of the sickle cell gene is between 10 to 30%, while in some areas it is as high as 45%.

It is estimated that approximately 1 000 children in Africa are born with SCD every day and more than half die before they reach five years of age.1 This is due primarily to a lack of early diagnosis through newborn screening, penicillin prophylaxis, parental education, and comprehensive care. In resource-poor countries, more than 90% of children with SCD do not survive to adulthood.

Fresh Dairy ‘3 Dairies A Day’ Campaign To Boost Health Living In Families

Fresh Dairy, the leading dairy products producer in Uganda has today heightened its ‘3 Dairies A day’ campaign aimed at instilling a family culture of having 3 Fresh Dairy products a day as part of an effort to ensure that families maintain a healthy balanced diet.

Marketing Manager, Fresh Dairy – Vincent Omoth said, ‘Fresh Dairy being a family brand believes that everyone in the family should benefit from Fresh Dairy’s nutrient – rich products that range from Fresh milk, flavoured milk, Long life or UHT milk, powdered milk, Yoghurt (both flavoured and Brookside fruit yoghurt), Butter, Ghee and Cream. All our dairy products are nutrient-rich with Energy, Carbohydrates, Protein, Fat and Calcium among others.

At Fresh Dairy, we are encouraging families to consume ‘3DairiesADay’ such as Fresh Dairy Yoghurt, Milk and Butter because a growing body of recent research suggests that enjoying three servings of dairy foods a day is part of a nutrient-rich and balanced diet, he added.

Omoth further said, ‘At Fresh Dairy, we produce dairy products but our business interest is the health and nutrition benefits for the end consumers of our products. At Fresh Dairy, we believe that good quality milk products are made from good quality milk. To this end, we have invested in stringent milk testing procedures both upstream and downstream along the entire value chain to ensure that we use high quality milk in all our products.’

Omoth concluded by noting that Fresh Dairy and Brookside products are available countrywide in Shops, Duukas, Kiosks, Supermarkets and Tricycle Agents located near consumers. Customers can also place orders for home delivery by calling our Customer care toll free line on 0800100020/21 or Whatsapp 0715744664.

How COVID-19 Triggered Creation Of Online Retailer Nofeka

The gruesome COVID-19 pandemic has shown that humans can sufficiently live a digital life facilitated by new technologies. With the right technology, you can basically access all the key services that you need through e-commerce and internet.

In Uganda, developers like Daniel Kiyega are spearheading the transition from analogue to digital trading and shopping. Kiyega recently launched his online shopping platform called Nofeka with an ambition to transform online shopping.

Kiyega, the founder and CEO of Nofeka, says he has been harbouring this plan since 2014 but the COVID-19 lockdown that has pushed many conventional businesses including banks, restaurants plus others to go online reminded him of the need to start now.

Nofeka, a digital retailer, according to a statement released, has expressed willingness to tussle it out with the present competition by offering better services.

“The major reason I have ventured into online retail, however, is to offer real convenience to shoppers in that they can place an order from where they are, continue going about their daily businesses and leave the rest to us,” said Kiyega, the CEO and founder of Nofeka.

“We will ensure the product is delivered in time with just a small delivery fee and the exact product as it appears online something that most online retailers still fail to do,” he added.

Nofeka's target is to hit 10,000 orders in the short term and 1 million orders a month with in the next 5 years.

Traffic on the new online retailer’s site has already hit 500 viewers a day with their Facebook page having surpassed 3000 followers in under 2 weeks.

From groceries to toiletries, kitchenware, beverages, electronics and a variety of other products, Nofeka has its eyes on going full swing into online retail just like Alibaba, Amazon, eBay and Jumia locally.

Customers shopping on Nofeka can use MasterCard, PayPal to mobile money and cash on delivery.

The retailer also has plans to go continental changing the game of online shopping in Africa after consolidating it’s hold onto the Ugandan and East African market.

#Action4Albinism: Pat Larubi Delivers Free Sunscreen To Persons With Albinism

A human rights activist and former journalist Pat Robert Larubi has taken on the road to deliver the much-needed sunscreen for people with albinism across the country on his motorbike.

Pat who started off his ride from Jinja on Thursday went through Kayunga, Lugazi, Mukono and parts of Wakiso delivering his first batch of sunscreen.

This was followed by another whole day ride from Kampala through Kole, parts of Omoro district and finally making it to Gulu district where he made his final stopover.

“The lockdown came with a number of issues; one was the ban on public transport which meant our people could not move nor access the much-needed sunscreen,” Pat said.

Adding: “I had to devise means to reach them because whereas other people cried for food persons with albinism cried for sunscreen because it’s one of the essential needs to aid their survival.”

Given the fact that most of them live in remote villages, Pat opted to take a ride simply to make sure he can access them wherever they are and secondly make sunscreen available and at no cost.

He says because of the lack of pigmentation, people with albinism may develop sores on their skin that could develop into skin cancer. By providing free sunscreen, people with albinism are saved from the burden of having to worry about skin cancer.

Pat explained that besides giving out the sunscreen the ride was also aimed at creating awareness under the theme #Action4Albinism.   

Mirembe Elizabeth Kwagala of Greater Luwero Albinos Association noted that they used to pick most of the sunscreen from their partners in Kampala but because of the lockdown, they had to bear the brunt of the sun and survive without sunscreen.

“When Pat called and told me he was delivering sunscreen to the people with albinism under my care, I was moved by his action of riding on a bike all these kilometers. Finally, he delivered hope for us on his bike,” Elizabeth said.

In Gulu, Lukwiya Jonathan, a youth with albinism could not hide his excitement when he received his package of sunscreen.

“I last got sunscreen in June of 2019 during a celebration to mark the international albinism day. I was lucky to have gotten more tins of sunscreen from a colleague who was leaving the country.

I equally distributed it to my fellows with albinism. Now, this ride by Pat is on a rescue mission for us to overcome the threats posed by lack of this essential item” Lukwiya said.

Pat said he had been inspired to ride his bike for all these kilometers after widespread calls and outcry for sunscreen, personal encounter and experience living with persons with albinism given the tough times that the country was going through.

However, this was the first time in a couple of years that Pat was taking such a long ride on his Bajaj Boxer reg number UEQ596P after he crashed with his Honda bike.

“I am not in a rush nor struggle to win a race. It’s a solo travel program so I will take my time on the road for the sake of my safety. I also want to be able to reach safely and deliver the packages I am carrying to the final destination. I am simply a messenger with a message to take home,” Pat said.

Under his social inclusion campaign dubbed “Action4Albinism”, Pat is raising awareness on albinism, building a support system for PWA in his solo expedition while also helping redefine lives of those who have been grounded by the impact of COVID-19.

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