NHIF: Prostate cancer patients can now access free drugs
Prostate cancer patients covered by the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) can now access a new drug that improves treatment.
The drug, Abiraterone Acetate, by Janssen Kenya, is used for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer and will be available to NHIF members as part of their benefits package after an agreement between NHIF and Janssen Kenya.
Chief Health Secretary Susan Mochache said the partnership will help strengthen access to innovative medicines and is “part of our ongoing foundation building to ensure the successful national roll-out of universal health coverage (UHC).”
Dr Peter Kamunyo, CEO of NHIF, said: “The spirit of the UHC is to ensure access to quality and consistent health services needed by all Kenyans without having to be impoverished due to high medical bills.”
Asgar Rangoonwala, senior vice president of emerging markets at Janssen Pharmaceutical, said, “We are committed to promoting medical innovations that address unmet healthcare needs in resource-constrained settings.”
Cancer remains one of the leading non-communicable diseases in Kenya and ranks third as a cause of death after infectious diseases and cardiovascular diseases.
Figures from the Ministry of Health show that prostate cancer accounts for 17.3% of all male cancers and 10.2% of all other cases in Kenya. There are an estimated 42,000 new cases of prostate cancer each year and around 28,000 cancer deaths each year.
However, over 70% of cancer cases are diagnosed late when treatment outcomes are poor and palliative care is usually the only amenable management.
Currently, the NHIF Cancer Care Package includes up to 10 chemotherapy sessions, oral and injectable anticancer drugs, inpatient and outpatient oncology services, 20 radiation therapy sessions, and up to two advanced cancer brachytherapy sessions per year.
Healthcare facilities offering the package include some Level Five and Six hospitals and select private hospitals in urban centers.
NHIF covers six sessions for first-line treatment up to Sh25,000 per session, four sessions for second and third-line treatment up to Sh150,000 per session, and 20 radiation therapy sessions at Sh3,600 per session.
At the diagnosis level, coverage includes a biopsy under the surgical package, in addition to radiology, including MRI, ultrasound or CT and PET scans.
Dr. Githinji Gitahi, CEO of AMREF Health Africa Group, praised the partnership, which he said will help alleviate the plight of cancer patients.