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Roche Partners with DRC Congo to Expand Access to Cancer Diagnostics and Treatments

by Brian Yatich
Roche Partners with DRC Congo to Expand Access to Cancer Diagnostics and Treatments

Roche has announced a new five-year partnership agreement with the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to expand access to cancer medicines and health care services for the Congolese people.

The announcement was made by DRC President Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo and Roche Chairman Christoph Franz. 

Cancer represents one of the most significant public health challenges in the DRC, with nearly 50,000 new cases diagnosed per year and 34,400 cancer deaths per year.

The new partnership increases investment in programmes that strengthen the country’s health care system and infrastructure, with Roche contributing a significant amount of the co-investment. 

The agreement also provides for the establishment of seven new cancer labs, three of which will open in 2021.

The first cancer lab at the University Clinics of Kinshasa opens today and the new partnership will see all Congolese people treated at any of the cancer labs have access to Roche medicines, at no cost.

Patients who visit the lab will also have access to Roche diagnostic tools, also at no cost. In 2021, the partnership aims to diagnose and treat up to 1,000 cancer patients. 

Through the partnership, the government and Roche will also work together to strengthen health care provider capacity through in-depth training and diagnostic capacity and capability building.

To improve the sustainability of the cancer care ecosystem beyond the initial terms of the five-year agreement, the partnership will invest in scientific education and training for five oncologists per year. 

The priorities set forth in the partnership agreement between the DRC government and Roche is the result of a co-creation process that began in October 2019 with more than 80 Congolese health care professionals and members of civil society to conduct an in-depth analysis and review of the current cancer care system and cancer patient journey.

These recommendations and learnings informed a proposal to the Ministry of Health for measures to strengthen the delivery of cancer care. 

New Roche Office in Kinshasa 

In addition to the partnership announcement, Roche is also today opening a new office in Kinshasa, affirming the company’s long-term commitment to the DRC and to expanding access to diagnostic solutions and treatments for the 86 million Congolese people.

The office will also support the Republic of Congo and Gabon. 

The office opening and partnership announcements are aligned with Roche’s commitment to Africa, which is centered on achieving a healthier future for all Africans by strengthening health infrastructure, increasing sustainable funding and enabling access to innovative diagnostics and treatments.

With a 70-year history in Africa, Roche’s footprint currently reaches across more than 40 African countries with more than 700 employees. 

“At Roche, we’re working toward a future where every African can access world-class healthcare. Our partnership with the Ministry and the opening of our office are the first of many steps Roche commits to taking in the DRC to improve the health of the Congolese people,” said Jean-Claude Vimpy-Kula, General Manager for Roche Congo. “By being a partner and contributing to solutions that strengthen the health system, we can make it easier for patients to access health information, screenings, trained health care professionals and appropriate treatments, including access to Roche’s most innovative medicines.” 

People in the DRC face numerous barriers to health care, including lack of adequately trained cancer specialists, low access to diagnostics, poor infrastructure, low disease awareness and financial constraints.

Roche is committed to addressing these unacceptable inequalities in access to healthcare and the significant unmet need for patients across Africa with a sense of openness and duty of care. Roche has made a long-term commitment to Africa and will contribute to strengthening health systems with innovative solutions tailored to African countries’ specific needs. 

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