Egypt launches national initiative for early detection, treatment of liver cancer

Amr Kandil , Monday 28 Mar 2022

Acting Minister of Health and Population Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar launched on Sunday an initiative for the early detection and treatment of Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) - liver cancer, the sixth most prevalent cancer in the globe.

 Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar
Acting Minister of Health and Population Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar at the launch ofthe liver cancer intiative. The Ministry of Health

The initiative comes as an extension of the national initiative to screen for the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) that was launched in 2018 under the umbrella of the larger 100 Million Healthy Lives Presidential Initiative to protect citizens’ health and social security, Abdel-Ghaffar said.

Liver cancer is the sixth most prevalent cancer in the globe and the fourth most prevalent cause of death from cancer.

Egypt has the world's second highest incidence of HCC, which can be ascribed to the elevated prevalence and complications of the hepatitis C virus (HCV).

In July 2020, the health ministry announced that Egypt has become the first country to succeed in becoming free of HCV thanks to the national initiative to end the infectious disease that ended in April 2019.

The goal of such health initiatives is to ensure the presence of a comprehensive, effective, and stable system that helps detect liver cancer, curbing complications and reducing deaths that result from liver diseases, Abdel-Ghaffar affirmed.

In the recent past, Egypt faced a key challenge in confronting HCV due to its health and socio-economic ramifications, a matter which required joint efforts from the concerned bodies along with the health ministry to eliminate the disease, he explained.

The minister added that Egypt has the best protocols for treating liver cancer patients who are in the first and intermediate stages through liver resection tumour surgeries and liver transplants.

Drugs for liver cancer are available at 22 centres affiliated with the National Committee for the Control of Viral Hepatitis (NCCVH) at ministry and university hospitals, he said.

There are 166 cancer cases in Egypt for every 100,000 people, according to the National Cancer Registry Program (NCRP), which makes the rate of documented cancer diagnosis in the country one of the lowest internationally.

The HCV initiative included mass screenings for all citizens over the age of 18 for the early detection of HCV alongside evaluation and treatment in Hepatitis treatment units deployed nationwide.

The early detection campaign included diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, directing those who need to receive treatment to various units and hospitals in the republic to reduce deaths caused by non-communicable diseases, which represent about 70 percent of deaths in Egypt.

The country also launched an initiative for the early detection of genetic diseases under the umbrella of the 100 Million Healthy Lives Initiative in July 2021, managing to screen 70,000 new born infants until February 2022, the ministry said.

Furthermore, Egypt screened over 22 million women as of February 2022 as part of a presidential initiative launched in 2019 to support women’s health. The initiative aims to screen 28 million women over 18 years of age.

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