NHIF to Give Prescription Drugs to Prostate Cancer Patients

Prostate cancer patients covered by the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) will now have access to innovator prescription drugs as part of strategic development to expand access to quality treatment regimes in Kenya. 

This development comes after the signing of a joint Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between NHIF and the pharmaceutical manufacturer and distributor Johnson &  Johnson Middle East FZ-LLC (Janssen Kenya).

The prescription drug ‘Abiraterone Acetate’ will be used for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer and will be made available to NHIF members within their existing benefits package.

Ministry of Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache in a speech read by NHIF Chairperson Lewis Nguyai described the partnership as a landmark development. The Ministry of Health has been actively engaging innovative pharmaceutical companies to seal similar private-public partnership agreements that will facilitate access to innovator drugs at affordable rates. Said the PS.

We are proud to be associated with Janssen for taking the lead in opening up access to an innovator drug such as Abiraterone Acetate, which will enhance positive health outcomes for prostate cancer patients” said Mochache.

Asgar Rangoonwala, visiting Senior Vice President for Emerging Markets at Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, reaffirmed the organization’s commitment to enhancing access to cutting-edge medications in emerging nations. Mr. Rangoonwala added that the business is pursuing public-private partnerships to increase the most vulnerable patients’ access to safe, efficient drugs and vaccinations in developing nations. “The MoU struck with NHIF is one of our partnerships to deploy new access models and equitable pricing strategies that increase the accessibility of our medications to patients in emerging nations like Kenya,” stated Mr. Rangoonwala.

In support of the cooperation in Universal Health Coverage, which has seen NHIF examine and broaden the scope of benefits available for cancer patients, NHIF CEO Dr. Peter Kamunyo reaffirmed the significance of the partnership. The evaluation of benefits, he said, is intended to make life easier for cancer patients and to give them more access to treatment.

The primary goal of the Fund is to provide medical insurance coverage for all of its members by maintaining a value-filled array of benefits. The goal of UHC is to ensure that all Kenyans have access to the high-quality, reliable healthcare services they require without having to go into poverty to pay for them. We are negotiating for such advancements so that the price of the drug needed to save lives is compatible with the packages being given. Dr. Kamunyo said.

CEO of AMREF Health Africa Group Dr. Githinji Gitahi praised the alliance and said it will improve the situation of cancer patients. Dr. Gitahi also emphasized the necessity of patient-centered approaches to healthcare delivery and the need for a functional cancer registry to direct response measures.

In Kenya, cancer is one of the main non-communicable diseases and is the third leading cause of death, behind cardiovascular and infectious diseases. About 28,000 people die from cancer each year, and there are thought to be 42,000 new cases each year. Palliative care is typically the only management approach that can be used because more than 70% of cancer cases are detected late, when treatment outcomes are poor.

Currently, the NHIF cancer treatment package includes up to 10 chemotherapy sessions, oral and injectable anticancer medications, inpatient and outpatient oncology services, 20 radiotherapy sessions, and up to 2 sessions of brachytherapy per year for advanced disease. Some level five and level six institutions as well as a few private metropolitan hospitals are among the healthcare establishments that provide the package.

The National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) pays for 20 sessions of radiotherapy at a cost of Ksh3,600 per session, as well as six sessions of first-line treatment up to Ksh25,000 per session, four sessions of second- and third-line treatment up to Ksh150,000 per session. In addition to Radiology, which includes MRIs, ultrasounds, CT scans, and PET scans, the cover also includes a biopsy as part of the surgical package at the diagnosis level.

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