Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination of Pakistan and Novartis have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to increase access to treatment for poor people affected with chronic diseases.

The deal was signed on behalf of Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination by Prime Minister’s National Health Programme director Dr Faisal Rifaq and Novartis CEO Shahab Rizvi.

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Under the MoU, Novartis and the Ministry will collaborate under the programme Novartis Access.

The programme will ensure access to high-quality medicines in the public sector primarily for four key non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, respiratory illnesses and breast cancer.

These diseases are responsible for nearly one-fifth of deaths in Pakistan annually within people aged 30-70.

Minister for National Health Services Regulations and Coordination Saira Afzal Tarar said: “I am very pleased over the signing of this Memorandum of Understanding with Novartis.

"It is part of the Prime Minister’s ambitious plans to make Pakistan a true welfare state."

“Pakistan is grievously affected by the growth of non-communicable diseases, and having access to high-quality treatment at low cost is a critical part of our work to lessen the impact of chronic disease in Pakistan.

“It is part of the Prime Minister’s ambitious plans to make Pakistan a true welfare state.”

It was noted that medicines under this Novartis Access portfolio are within the most frequently prescribed medicines for these targeted chronic diseases globally.

During its pilot phase, Novartis Access medicines will be made available through selected empanelled hospitals in the district of Islamabad under the Prime Minister’s National Health Programme.

The government has stated its commitment to make these available medicines free of charge to patients within the programme.

This programme will gradually be extended to all districts of the Prime Minister’s National Health Programme.