Soon to be announced: Egypt free of Hepatitis C

Reem Leila , Monday 7 Aug 2023

The World Health Organisation will soon announce that Egypt has become the first country to eliminate Hepatitis C.

Free of HCV
6,000 units were deployed to examine more than 60 million people in seven months


The World Health Organisation (WHO) will soon officially certify Egypt as the first country to fully eradicate HCV.

The certificate, to be presented to Egypt in September, is considered the first granted to a country for eliminating the virus.

Egypt used to have the highest prevalence rate of the virus in the world.

According to Minister of Health and Population Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar, Egypt has developed a comprehensive plan where all bodies involved in screening, prevention and treatment of the illness were involved.

“The ministry has set up around 6,000 units to examine more than 60 million people over only seven months. This is in addition to 200 medical units to treat those who were proven positive for HCV,” Abdel-Ghaffar said.

During World Hepatitis Day on 28 July, Hossam Abdel-Ghaffar, the spokesman for the ministry, said that the presidential initiative “100 Million Healthy Lives” formed the foundation for getting rid of HCV.

The campaign was launched “under the initiative and after the screening of 62 million Egyptians, we treated more than five million people in less than five years,” the minister noted.

He added that locally-produced drugs were used to treat patients, achieving a treatment rate of 98 per cent.

According to the spokesman, African nations benefited from Egypt’s progress as, in accordance with the presidential plan, Egypt agreed to provide medical care for one million Africans.

Additionally, Egypt took part in the global effort to eradicate HCV last year by helping to develop the first set of international standards for doing so.

For the second year in a row, Egypt recently sent 11 medical aid shipments to Uzbekistan in an effort to eradicate HCV.

The WHO has been providing technical assistance to the Ministry of Health and Population, Ahmed Al-Kurd, a hepatologist and expert on gastroenterology, noted. WHO has served as an independent verification agency, visiting screening locations across the country and conducting extensive patient surveys to ensure compliance with WHO guidelines and high-quality services.

Al-Kurdi pointed out that Egypt has the highest rate of Hepatitis C prevalence in the world.

The government has made significant efforts to strengthen hepatitis prevention since the early 1990s with programmes aimed at eliminating schistosomiasis, a parasite carried by water snails and which is mainly responsible for the disease, and to end the unhealthy practice of sharing or reusing needles and syringes resulting in the accidental transfer of infection.

It also focused on harm prevention activities and on increasing public awareness.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 3 August, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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