BVGH’s African Access Initiative expands to Rwanda
The Government of Rwanda has joined the African Access Initiative (AAI), an international public-private alliance addressing Africa’s escalating cancer crisis, the Rwandan Ministry of Health and Seattle-based BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH) has announced.
AAI—led by BVGH in partnership with the African Organization for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC); the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA)/ Access Accelerated; Pfizer, Inc.; and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.—brings together governments, companies, healthcare experts, and academic and nonprofit organizations to sustainably expand access to oncology medicines and improve cancer care in Africa.
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, 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 providers—cannot meet the increasing demand for oncology care.
"I am very pleased to welcome BVGH and the African Access Initiative to Rwanda," said Dr. Diane Gashumba, Minister of Health, Rwanda. "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.”
"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.
BVGH presented an update on AAI and hosted workshops on oncology capacity building and clinical trials at the 2017 AORTIC International Conference on Cancer in Africa.
The clinical trials workshop will serve as the launch of AAI’s African Consortium for Cancer Clinical Trials (AC3T), which will facilitate efficacy and safety studies of cancer therapies against the genetically and biologically distinct cancers and patient populations in Africa.