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Government receives support from Japan, Novartis

Government receives support from Japan, Novartis

With the growing number of confirmed cases and the full impact of the pandemic on the economy yet to be seen, the government of Ethiopia has received grants and financial backings, the latest coming from the government of Japan and the Swiss multinational medicine company, Novartis.

According to Matsunaga Daisuke, Ambassador of Japan to Ethiopia, the USD 14 million grant will help hospitals and medical universities be equipped with health and medical equipment’s that include radiography systems and portable ultrasound scanners.

While Japan inked the grant agreement with Ethiopia, the Swiss based Novartis Group has considered Ethiopia to be part of its new nonprofit COVID-19 portfolio that includes 15 medicines that will help treat gastro-intestinal illness, acute respiratory symptoms, pneumonia as well as septic shocks.

According to the press release, the Novartis Group sent to The Reporter the new initiative is to help patients in low-income and lower-middle-income countries (LIC; LMIC) access affordable medicines to treat the major symptoms of COVID-19 – a critical need in the absence of a vaccine or curative treatment. Inflammation and respiratory problems linked to COVID-19 can cause severe medical complications and can lead to death in some people, putting immense strain on fragile healthcare systems.

The medicines will be made available to governments, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and other institutional customers, in up to 79 eligible countries at zero-profit, to support financially-strained healthcare systems. Countries will also have the flexibility to select the medicines in the portfolio that meet their healthcare needs. Lutz Hegemann (MD), Chief Operating Officer for Global Health at Novartis said, “We wish to help address the additional healthcare demands of the pandemic in the countries we are targeting.”

According to Racey Muchilwa, head of Novartis for Sub Saharan Africa, the company has committed to donating USD 40 million to support communities around the world impacted by the pandemic. In Sub Sahara Africa region, Novartis has provided a USD 2 million fund to support efforts across many countries in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic to which Ethiopia is one of the beneficiaries.

The medicines Novartis Groups has pledged to grant to some 79 countries include Amoxicillin, Ceftriaxone, Clarithromycin, Colchicine, Dexamethasone, Dobutamine, Fluconazole, Heparin, Levofloxacin, Loperamide, Pantoprazole, Prednisone, Prednisolone, Salbutamol, Vancomycin.

It is to be recalled that Novartis is known to partner with the government of Ethiopia to provide least cost medicines, for non-communicable diseases (NDCs). Back in 2015, an agreement to provide “one USD per person per month” as part of a social responsibility initiative was initiated commencing last year.

In line with that, entities such as the Eastern and Southern Africa Trade and Development Bank (TDB) has also provided some 160,000 made-in-Ethiopia masks valued at USD 100,000 to Ethiopian healthcare workers via the Ministry of Health.

The development bank has announced its backing with a view to support Ethiopian business and employment during these difficult times. TDB has procured the masks from Everest Apparel Ethiopia SC, a garment factory, housed in Hawassa Industrial Park, which has created 2,000 jobs.

In addition to these, the government is looking at a USD four billion package to stimulate adversely impacted segments of the economy and provide food assistances for millions of affected communities.