British pharmaceutical feted for healthcare efforts in Africa
Eighty per cent of the deaths in the world are due to non-communicable diseases that occur in low and middle-income nations, with Africa accounting for the lion’s share.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), even though medicines to manage or treat most of the ailments that cause these deaths exist, access to these medicines is generally poor in most African countries, making it a major challenge in the fight against non-communicable diseases in Africa.
The unavailability of essential medicines in the public sector is often a result of insufficient resources and distribution, and forces patients to seek alternatives in the private sector, where generic medicines are often two to three times costlier.
That is what led British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to Africa in a bid to tackle cardiovascular diseases that are estimated to affect nearly half of adults in Africa aged 25 and above across the continent, providing training while establishing screening and treatment centres.
AstraZeneca has been feted by global Access to Medicine Index, jumping ten places from last year’s rankings to Position 8 this year. The global index ranks pharmaceutical companies based on their efforts to improve access to medicine in developing countries highly burdened by diseases.
The biopharmaceutical firm targets to treat 10 million people with hypertension in Africa over the next decade, having conducted close to 2 Million hypertension screenings so far, diagnosed more than 300,000 patients with high blood pressure and commenced treatment for 80,000 patients.
In most developing African states, the highest component of household related expenditure is on medicines and treatment that has continued to exert financial strain on family budgets.
The huge cost of treatment of chronic diseases often pushes most African families below the poverty line.
Among the approaches adopted by Non-Governmental Organisations, development partners and donors include upgrading select facilities to specialise in treatment of non-communicable diseases and grants to improve the capacity of public health systems and improve the quality use of medicine by prescribers and consumers.
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