Among numerous global challenges, hepatitis C is one we can beat through one final step

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Prof. Dr. Mohamad Hassany, Assistant Minister for Public Health Initiatives and Projects for Egypt, Director of the COVID19 Crisis Room, Ministry of Health, Egypt

  • Hepatitis C, including chronic hepatitis C, is still prevalent in the world with huge health, social and economic costs.
  • Egypt had one of the highest incidence rates of hepatitis C in the world and is on the brink of eliminating it from its population.
  • Egypt’s model for eliminating hepatitis C could be a blueprint for the rest of the world by 2030 if political leaders come together.

The COVID-19 pandemic created health impacts beyond the virus spread itself, sending Sustainable Development Goal 3: Good Health and Wellbeing, particularly off kilter. Some of SDG 3’s key targets have been set back by as much as a decade, including those around tackling infectious diseases like HIV, tuberculosis and malaria.

There is, however, one ray of light: the fight against viral hepatitis. At the start of the last decade, hepatitis C had a low cure rate using hard drugs with significant side effects. This virality had a massive social and economic impact after risks of long-term ill health, poverty and even death. The World Health Organization, for instance, estimated that approximately 290,000 people died from hepatitis C in 2019. And a study has shown that the cost of chronic hepatitis C to the United States could exceed $10 billion annually.

Ten years on, the fight against hepatitis C has become far easier after the discovery of a cure and access of millions of people worldwide to affordable drugs, some of which are produced by Egyptian pharmaceutical companies. Now, individuals in countries with access to hepatitis C medicines can look forward to a long and healthy life.

This turning point is not only transformational for the individuals affected. Still, it has inadvertently led to a golden opportunity for countries with high numbers of cases while being historically significant for the global community. Less than a decade ago, Egypt, for example, had the highest rate of hepatitis C among its population in the world at 7%. Today, after one of the most extensive public health campaigns in our history, we stand on the brink of being the first country to eliminate hepatitis C, a point to which we led ourselves.

How Egypt eliminated hepatitis C

The story behind this achievement is found in a new White Paper published by the World Economic Forum, with support from Pharco Pharmaceuticals, titled The Art and Science of Eliminating Hepatitis: Egypt’s Experience. The report details how the Egyptian government and people came together to tackle the scourge of hepatitis C, screening 60 million people in a matter of months and curing nearly four million – half of all people worldwide treated for hepatitis C across the same time period. Egypt is proud of its achievements and we’re delighted to share the lessons we’ve learned with the broader Forum community.

Eliminating the scourge of hepatitis C in Egypt is not just Egypt’s success story. As the report explains, the path to combating this health challenge was difficult but it still remains a blueprint that all other countries could follow.

With enough political leadership and effort, we can eliminate hepatitis C by 2030. ”— Prof. Dr. Mohamad Hassany Assistant Minister for Public Health Initiatives and Projects for Egypt

Egypt has affordable tools and precedence of the results. Most importantly, we have economic modelling that shows that hepatitis C elimination demonstrates a positive return on investment in almost any country globally. Taken together, we have an opportunity – an opportunity that exists for hepatitis C and almost no other major endemic disease.

With enough political leadership and effort, we can eliminate hepatitis C by 2030. Of all the 2030 targets for health, eliminating hepatitis C is one we can meet and doing so will do justice to the estimated 58 million people worldwide still affected by chronic hepatitis C with around 1.5 million new infections occurring each year.

Egypt stands ready to support any country that wants to accelerate efforts against hepatitis C and has already pledged to treat one million people across Africa for the disease. But we are willing to go further.

Egypt’s vision is of leaders coming together to drive coordinated progress against hepatitis C and a world free of the disease. So, I am pleased today to openly invite any government to work with the Government of Egypt and the World Economic Forum to galvanize the political leadership to end hepatitis.

We have everything we need to end hepatitis C, all that remains is the political resolve to make it happen.

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: