A partnership agreement has been signed between the Ministry of Health and global pioneer in pharmaceuticals, Roche, to improve access to care for breast cancer and hepatitis patients on Monday, May 16.
The agreement builds upon the existing National Strategy for Cancer Control and National Hepatitis Policy in Ghana established by Ministry of Health in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
The policies were developed to provide responses to cancer and hepatitis challenges in the country.
The agreements summarize partnership activities that the parties aim to implement to address the numerous obstacles that patients face, and improve outcomes in these disease areas in which Roche has an expertise.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in Ghana, with 2,900 cases diagnosed annually, a rate of approximately 17 percent. One in eight women with the disease will die from it.
Early detection of breast cancer remains the cornerstone of managing the disease. If detected early, and if adequate diagnosis and treatment are available, there is a good chance that breast cancer can be cured. The majority of deaths women with breast cancer are diagnosed in late stages due mainly to lack of awareness on early detection and barriers to health services.
Anticipated partnership activities for the breast cancer agreement include: disease awareness programs, screening to promote early detection, establishment of two centers of excellence, referral pathways to tertiary centres, improvement of diagnostics facilities at treatment centers, training of specialists, development of National Cancer registries to establish disease burden to aid planning, development of national treatment guidelines, and access to treatment for breast cancer under the National Health Insurance Scheme.
Viral hepatitis is a major global health issue with the highest rates found in sub-Saharan Africa. Approximately four million of Ghana’s 28 million people have the disease, a national rate of greater than 8percent, with the upper west region of the country as high as approximately 19 percent
Also, Viral hepatitis is a potentially life-threatening liver infection caused by the hepatitis virus. It can cause chronic infection and puts people at high risk of death from cirrhosis and liver cancer.
The proposed partnership activities for the hepatitis agreement include the development of national prevalence data, disease awareness programs, screening, training healthcare providers in diagnostics, improving the availability of diagnostics in the public sector, access to innovative treatments, and the development of national treatment guidelines.
“This partnership with Roche is a major step forward for breast cancer and hepatitis patients in Ghana. The focus on awareness and diagnosis, combined with training for healthcare professionals and improved access to treatments will help to change the landscape of these two diseases for patients,” said, Head Public Relations. “We are committed to raising the standard of care in Ghana, and reducing the need for Ghanaians to travel to other parts of the world to access treatment.”
“There are effective tools available to prevent infection with viral hepatitis which includes hepatitis B vaccination, surveillance, education, screening, and treatment; however, the challenge is to build the capacity to extend these interventions country-wide. For this reason the Ministry of Health, Ghana constituted technical experts who tirelessly worked and had consultative review meetings with all key stakeholders that matter to develop the First-ever
Minister for Health, Alex Segbefia while explaining the National Policy on Prevention and Control of Viral Hepatitis in country said:
“It’s critical that we work together to improve outcomes for breast cancer and hepatitis patients in Ghana who are not getting the access to the care they need for their life-threatening diseases,” said Markus Gemuend, Head, sub-Saharan Africa, Roche.”
He continued that “Today’s comprehensive agreement reflects a multidisciplinary approach to improving care and helping to ensure patients in Ghana get earlier diagnosis and improved treatment that is so desperately needed. We aim to support the government of Ghana in this critical endeavor, alongside other partners, to thoughtfully address the challenges of treating breast cancer and hepatitis.”
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