The Government of Rwanda has joined the African Access Initiative (AAI), an international public-private alliance addressing Africa’s escalating cancer crisis.

AAI brings together governments, companies, healthcare experts, and academic and non-profit organisations to sustainably expand access to oncology medicines and improve cancer care in Africa.

AAI is led by US-based non-profit organisation BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH) in partnership with the African Organisation for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC); the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA)/ Access Accelerated; Pfizer, Inc.; and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.

Rwanda is the fifth African country to commit to AAI, joining Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya and Nigeria.

As described in a white paper published by BVGH and partners in June 2017, cancer kills 60% more people in Africa than malaria, and the number of cancer deaths is expected to increase almost 70% by 2030. Local health systems—plagued by shortages of life-saving medications, essential diagnostic and therapeutic equipment and experienced healthcare providers—cannot meet the increasing demand for oncology care.

“I am very pleased to welcome BVGH and the AAI to Rwanda,” said the Rwandan Minister of Health, Dr Diane Gashumba.

“AAI is a powerful platform for expanding our international partnerships with the biopharmaceutical industry, training healthcare professionals, and delivering high-quality, affordable early detection and treatment services nationally—all of which are top priorities for our government as cancer rates continue to rise,” continued Dr Gashumba.

“We are very excited to welcome Rwanda to AAI. The commitment and enthusiasm of Dr Gashumba and First Lady Jeannette Kagame to fight cancer in Rwanda reflects strong support in the government to push back against this growing threat to all Africans,” said BVGH President, Jennifer Dent.

BVGH has worked with eight hospitals to date in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya and Nigeria to complete needs assessments detailing capabilities, gaps and priorities in cancer care and research. The assessments include data on oncology therapies in use and needed, as well as human resources and equipment needs.

In Rwanda, BVGH is expected to work with four hospitals selected by the Ministry of Health including: Kigali University Teaching Hospital (CHUK), Butare University Teaching Hospital (CHUB), Butaro Hospital and Rwanda Military Hospital (RMH).

Using the information from the assessments and meetings, BVGH will match hospital and country needs with participating companies’ oncology portfolios and capabilities; develop innovative business models driven by hospital and country priorities and aligned with company interests; and coordinate delivery of medicines, technologies and training. Hospitals are expected to receive their first medication shipments in early 2018.

For more information contact, like us on Facebook or tweet us @eHealthNewsZA.