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Health News of Friday, 18 June 2021

Source: Michael Ansah, Contributor

Roche expands partnership with Health Ministry to improve cancer care at Cape Coast Teaching Hospital

The Cape Coast Teaching Hospital The Cape Coast Teaching Hospital

Roche announced a new partnership with the government of Ghana to expand access to oncology services for the Ghanaian people, beginning with the opening of a new cancer treatment centre at the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital. The announcement was made by Philip Anderson, General Manager for Roche Ghana, Dr. Eric Ngyedu, CEO of Cape Coast Teaching Hospital, Dr. Baffour Awuah on Behalf of the Minister of Health and Dr. Lydia Dsane-Selby, CEO of the Ghana National Health Insurance Authority.

Through the partnership agreement, Roche will work with the Ministry of Health to develop infrastructure to deliver cancer care at key hospitals across the country by launching oncology services in three new cancer treatment centres with the goal of bridging geographic access barriers to quality cancer care; supporting capacity development and training for health care providers; and supporting awareness creation in communities.

“At Roche, we are committed to co-creating solutions that are tailored to the specific, local needs of each country and community where we work,” said Philip Anderson of Roche. "We recognize the importance of working with stakeholders across the healthcare ecosystem to correct unacceptable inequities in care by strengthening health infrastructure, increasing sustainable funding and enabling access to innovative diagnostics and treatments. Through our partnership with the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital, we can improve the lives of cancer patients in Ghana by providing excellent oncology care.”

Cape Coast Teaching Hospital CEO Dr. Ngyedu said, “The key driver of the hospital investing and collaborating with credible partners such as Roche to provide cancer services are based on the harrowing challenges that patients bear in accessing care. Only two public hospitals are mandated to provide cancer services and facilities are often over-burdened, leading to delays in patient access to required specialist care. This does not bode well for management outcomes and worsens patients’ prognosis. The increased risks presented by long travels worsen the plight of patients. The hospital thus saw it was crucial to curb these challenges by strategically positioning itself to cater to patients within and outside the region. Cold chain infrastructure will also support the provision of quality medicines and reagents to support diagnosis and treatment and we are pleased to have a modern standard facility to aid with the provision of quality care as provided by Roche.”

Dr. Baffour Awuah, Special Advisor on Health (Human Resource and NCD Director MOH), stated, “Government is focused on enabling quality cancer care provision for Ghanaians to help turn the alarming disease burden around. The government is vested in ensuring that evidence-based decision-making is standard, stemming from accurate cancer data from cancer registries, distribution of cancer services at adequately resourced and equipped centres and enabling access to quality cancer care for men, women and children. It is the intention of government that through impactful public-private-partnerships, equitable and sustainable access to cancer care is provided for the people of Ghana.''

Dr. Lydia Dsane-Selby, CEO of the Ghana National Health Insurance Authority, also attended the centre launch and delivered remarks on improving access to health care, “Leveraging technology to bridge some of the gaps that exist in our healthcare system is important. Telemedicine may become a key avenue for accessing medical care as COVID-19 has introduced and we may need to consider its role in standard access to care including cancer care. It may reach more clients quicker and scale geographical barrier issues.Technology can and has shown to be an exponential enabler to improving access to care. I would encourage a structured, cogent approach to include leveraging technology to enable access to care.'' She also indicated that for better health economic value, it will be prudent to support early detection of cancers and encouraged its adoption.

Roche has long been working to improve oncology care in Ghana and in 2018 signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ghana Ministry of Health to conduct disease awareness programmes; increase screening to promote early detection; establish centres of excellence; improve diagnostic facilities at treatment centres; train specialists; develop a national cancer registry to better understand the disease burden; and establish national treatment guidelines. To improve access to breast cancer innovative therapies, Roche also worked with the Ministry of Health and multiple stakeholders to enable public funding of treatment at sustainable access pricing in 2019.

Cancer is one of the most significant public health challenges in Ghana, with more than 24,000 new cases diagnosed in 2020 and more than 15,800 people dying from the disease. Of all cancers, breast cancer is the most pervasive, accounting for more than 31% of all new cancer cases in women in 2020 . According to the Ghana National Strategy for Cancer Control 2014-2017, almost seven out of 10 women diagnosed with breast cancer each year in Ghana will die from their disease, compared to two out of 10 women in developed countries like the United States of America.

Ghanaians face numerous challenges during their patient journey, including health, mental, social and financial hurdles. Roche is committed to addressing these barriers to healthcare and the significant unmet need for patients across Africa with a sense of openness and duty of care. Roche has made a long-term commitment to Ghana and the African continent, and will contribute to invest in strengthening health systems and collaborating with partners to implement innovative solutions that are tailored to African countries’ specific needs.