KENYA —The Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) has successfully negotiated a special access price for Caffeine Citrate, a critical drug aiding premature infants with immature breathing patterns.

The agreement, facilitated in collaboration with drug manufacturer Ethypharm and supported by the Ministry of Health, signifies a breakthrough for Kenya’s neonatal care.

Under the new deal, Kenya will acquire Caffeine Citrate at a heavily subsidized rate of Ksh 400 (US$2.6), a significant drop from the previous cost of Ksh 1,500 (US$9.8).

CHAI Deputy Director Rosemary Kihoto highlighted that the substantial reduction, over 70%, will remove barriers to access, allowing more facilities to procure adequate quantities of the essential drug.

Caffeine Citrate plays a pivotal role in managing apnoea of prematurity, a condition where pre-term infants experience pauses in breathing, posing severe risks.

Prematurity complications are a leading cause of neonatal deaths in Kenya, emphasizing the significance of affordable and accessible treatments.

The collaboration between CHAI and Ethypharm extends beyond negotiations. The organizations donated Kshs 13.5 million (US$88,553.6) worth of Caffeine Citrate to strengthen immediate access in the public sector.

This donation, comprising 20,000 ampoules from CHAI and 10,000 ampoules along with essential equipment from Ethypharm, reinforces their commitment to enhancing neonatal care in Kenya.

Ethypharm General Manager – Middle East and North Africa, Rob Bruchet, expressed optimism about the partnership’s potential to increase access to Caffeine Citrate.

The company is open to similar collaborations with other African governments, reflecting a broader commitment to advancing healthcare on the continent.

CHAI’s Associate Director for Maternal Newborn & Child Health, Betty Wariari, emphasized the synergy between the donation and the recently launched national guideline on the Management of Apnoea of Prematurity in Kenya.

The guideline, coupled with the affordability of Caffeine Citrate, sets a foundation for improving neonatal care and reducing mortality rates.

The initiative aligns with Kenya’s broader healthcare goals, aiming to achieve Sustainable Development Goal targets by reducing neonatal mortality.

By supporting the Ministry of Health in training healthcare workers and strengthening neonatal care infrastructure, CHAI aims to contribute significantly to this overarching objective.

The partnership’s significance goes beyond immediate drug access, addressing broader issues in neonatal care.

The Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha urged counties to prioritize investments in newborn support equipment, commodities, and personnel.

Governor Mutula Kilonzo Junior highlighted the need for a fundamental shift in how newborn units are treated, emphasizing the allocation of sufficient space and resources.

With the launch of the guidelines, community involvement, and awareness campaigns, the initiative seeks to tackle the multifaceted challenges associated with premature births.

Preterm births, a major cause of neonatal deaths, demand comprehensive interventions, and the collaboration between CHAI, Ethypharm, and the Kenyan government represents a substantial step toward enhancing the survival rates and well-being of premature infants.

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