Egypt: Near a million treated for Hepatitis C in two years
Egypt has one of the world’s highest incidence rates of hepatitis C, a disease that damages your liver and causes cirrhosis and cancer. It is estimated that about 7 per cent of its population of 90 million have the virus. However, the majority of the 5m-6m Egyptians infected by the virus are unaware of their disease. Since the country government treatment program began two years ago, nearly 1m hepatitis C patients have been treated at the government’s expense. Egyptian health officials have negotiated the price of Sovaldi, a medication developed by Gilead and approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2013.
As a result of this deal Egypt was able to purchase the three-month course of medication for $900 compared with the $84,000 price in the US. Recently the Egyptian program has come to rely on much cheaper generic versions produced locally, with a three-month course of medication costing as little as $80. Considering the low price of drugs and the accessibility the main challenge now is to identify the people who are infected but don’t know it. To achieve this, a screening program has started at hospitals and universities.
“After years of people running after us to treat them, we will now have to run after them to be diagnosed,” health officials said.