At the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7), Access Accelerated, in partnership with the Japan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (JPMA), hosted a side event titled, “Accelerating Sustainable UHC by Improving Access to NCD Care,” to explore work currently underway to increase access to non-communicable disease (NCD) care in the context of global momentum for Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
Organized to convene the diverse perspectives of policymakers, implementing partners and biopharmaceutical industry leaders, the event sparked a lively dialogue about:
- Innovative public-private partnership models and the importance of breaking down silos to improve access to health care, particularly for NCDs;
- Specific examples and learnings generated from experiences in Kenya and Ghana to inform future scale up of programming; and
- Opportunities for Access Accelerated to continue supporting multi-sectoral collaboration and catalyzing additional investment in sustainable NCD solutions.
The event master of ceremonies, Osamu Chihara, Vice-Chair of International committee, JPMA, welcomed a crowd of more than 75 attendees and the event program began with opening remarks from Representative Director and Chairman of Daiichi Sankyo and JPMA President George Nakayama. Keynote speeches then followed from Professor Keizo Takemi, a member of the House of Councilors, and Dr. Joseph Kibachio, Head of Public Health Strategic Programs from the Kenya Ministry of Health.
Mr. Nakayama provided an insightful overview of the biopharmaceutical industry’s efforts to promote health care in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and highlighted improvements that have been made to foster collaboration among all stakeholders involved in increasing access to care. He discussed how what began as siloed efforts by individual companies, has now transformed into an integrated organization and alignment around common approach through Access Accelerated.
By engaging beyond the private sector to address the massive ongoing challenge of NCDs, “We understand the private sector has an important role to play in achieving the United Nations UHC goals, however, we cannot do this alone,” said Mr. Nakayama.
In his remarks, Prof. Takemi spoke about Japan’s unique approach to financing UHC. He emphasized that the Japanese government has committed to moving UHC forward in LMICs and supporting different initiatives and programs to achieve this goal.
“Our health care system is dogged by siloing of funds. But I’m a firm believer that even silos have windows.”– Dr. Joseph Kibachio
Dr. Kibachio reinforced the critical role mobilizing resources can have to increase access to treatment and care. He also spoke about Access Accelerated serving as a model for other health care initiatives and that solving pressing health care challenges must be done through multi-layered coordinated approaches that unite public and private institutions.
Following these individual remarks, a substantive panel discussion was held, moderated by Dr. James Pfitzer, Director of Access Accelerated and Dr. Eva Njenga, Chair of NCD Alliance Kenya. Speakers shared their experiences and lessons learned in implementing programs to improve access to NCD care in Kenya, Ghana and beyond. Panelists included:
- Dennis Laryea, Ghana Health Service
- Helen McGuire, PATH
- Hiroki Nakatani, Keio University
- Joseph Kibachio, Kenya Ministry of Health
- Magnus Lindelow, The World Bank
- Thomas Cueni, IFPMA
- Susan Henshall, City Cancer Challenge
Throughout both the panel discussion and the keynote remarks, several important themes emerged about the considerations and actions that can move the needle forward on UHC and increase access to NCD prevention, treatment and care:
- Integrated responses are needed: In the spirit of Sustainable Development Goal 17, which is devoted to fostering strong partnerships, breaking down silos was a universal theme for the side event, both in terms of creating impactful public health programming and financing health care. Several speakers underscored how important partnership and collaboration are to achieving health for all and tackling access barriers to NCD prevention, treatment and care. Mr. Cueni stated, “You can’t focus on your silo, you have to focus on the partnerships. We have to look at bottleneck issues, at procurement issues, at corruption, at counterfeit medicines, at everything. That’s the spirit that led to Access Accelerated and the partnerships around the table.”
- Health is a development and economic issue: In his comments, Dr. Lindelow reinforced the relationship between health care and economic development and discussed how the World Bank’s Human Capital Project has put a focus on the impact inadequate health care has on growth and productivity. “A child born in certain regions [with limited access to health care] will only be 40 percent as productive then if they had access to health care services.”
- We need to finance sustainable solutions: Speakers also emphasized the financing challenges faced by both UHC and NCD access efforts. “Our health care system is dogged by siloing of funds…[and] developing countries are sometimes unfairly expected to change their health care system to accommodate this kind of funding silo,” explained Dr. Kibachio of his experience in Kenya. Prof. Takemi underscored the importance of collaboration beyond health care leadership, “When [Japan] achieved UHC, the finance ministry took a very important role in designing the health system,” he said in his opening remarks. “And it took a very important role in creating the sustainability of our system.”
- Stronger use of data creates efficiencies: “It’s the responsibility of all of us to use the data in our work. But how do we use it? Can we make it useful and make it easy to interact with?” said Helen McGuire as she detailed the efforts of PATH and Access Accelerated to create a platform, NCD Navigator, where data for NCD access program activity in focus countries is collected and visualized. This platform helps local officials identify potential partners and to better understand gaps that need to be filled.
- Pilot, but also scale: Learnings and best practices from pilot projects are critical to inform the scale up of programs. In the words of Mr. Cueni, “If we are not able to scale our efforts up, we will fail.” Dr. Henshall, CEO of the City Cancer Challenge, provided a distinct perspective on how learnings generated at the city-level can inform scale up for national efforts. She provided examples of the organization’s successes in bringing together all who work on cancer within a city to directly affect public policy. Dr. Pfitzer emphasized how Access Accelerated is applying insights from pilots like the City Cancer Challenge. “The learnings from the city level are unique and guiding our initiatives,” he said.
The event concluded issuing a strong call to continue moving from words into action, and encouraging attendees to take responsibility for advancing NCD solutions and supporting people living with NCDs. “Let’s bring theory and practice together,” said Prof. Nakatani.
“Each one of us is responsible for getting to the forgotten people and helping them [obtain care] for NCDs.”– Dr. Eva Njenga
NCD Alliance Kenya