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Egypt’s “Gold Tier” Status in Eliminating Hepatitis C


Why is it in the news?

  • Recently, Egypt has achieved “gold tier” status according to WHO criteria for hepatitis C elimination.

More about the news

Criteria for the “gold tier” status include:

  • Ensuring 100% blood and injection safety.
  • Maintaining a minimum of 150 needles/syringes per year for people who inject drugs (PWID).
  • Diagnosing over 80% of people with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV).
  • Treating over 70% of individuals diagnosed with HCV.
  • Establishing a sentinel surveillance program for hepatitis sequelae, including liver cancer.

Egypt’s “100 Million Healthy Lives” Initiative

  • Egypt has implemented the “100 Million Healthy Lives” initiative.
  • It has resulted in a significant reduction of hepatitis C prevalence from 10% in 2016 to 5% in 2018, and less than 1% in 2019.
  • Diagnosed 87% of people living with hepatitis C and provided curative treatment to 93% of those diagnosed.
  • Exceeded WHO’s gold tier targets for diagnosis and treatment.
Hepatitis

 About

  • Hepatitis refers to liver inflammation.
  • Various triggering agents include heavy alcohol use, toxins, medications, and viruses.
  • Five main strains/types of hepatitis: A, B, C, D, and E.
  • Types B and C are the most common and can lead to chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, liver cancer, and related deaths.

 Treatment for Hepatitis

  • Hepatitis A: Typically, a short-term illness, may not require specific treatment.
  • Hepatitis B: No specific treatment for acute hepatitis B.
  • Hepatitis C: Antiviral medications can treat both acute and chronic forms.
  • Hepatitis D: Pegylated interferon alpha is a treatment option but can have severe side effects.
  • Hepatitis E: Currently, no specific medical therapies are available.
  • Autoimmune hepatitis: Corticosteroids, like prednisone or budesonide, are important in early treatment and effective for about 80% of patients.

 

Key Government Initiatives Related to Hepatitis in India

 

National Viral Hepatitis Control Program (NVHCP):

·       The National Viral Hepatitis Control Program was launched in 2018 as a comprehensive initiative to combat viral hepatitis in India.

·       The program aims to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with hepatitis B and C infections by providing free diagnosis and treatment services.

·       It includes activities such as mass awareness campaigns, vaccination for hepatitis B, screening and testing, and treatment with antiviral drugs.

·       The Program aims to end viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030 in the country.

Universal Immunization Program (UIP):

·       The Universal Immunization Program in India includes the vaccination of infants against hepatitis B.

·       The hepatitis B vaccine is administered as part of the routine immunization schedule to protect newborns from contracting the virus from infected mothers during childbirth.

Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram (JSSK):

·       The JSSK is a government initiative that provides free maternal and child health services, including hepatitis B vaccinations for pregnant women and newborns.

·       This program aims to prevent mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis B.

Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA):

·       PMSMA is a government program that offers free antenatal care to pregnant women.

·       As part of this program, pregnant women are screened for hepatitis B, and if found positive, necessary interventions are provided to prevent transmission to the newborn.

National Health Mission (NHM):

·       The NHM supports various public health initiatives, including the prevention and control of hepatitis.

·       Under NHM, awareness campaigns and health education programs are conducted to promote safe practices and raise awareness about hepatitis.

Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres (ICTCs):

·       ICTCs are established across the country to provide counselling and testing services for HIV and hepatitis.

·       These centres play a crucial role in early detection and management of hepatitis infections.

Safe Blood Transfusion Program:

·       The Indian government has implemented measures to ensure the safety of blood transfusions, including screening donated blood for hepatitis B and C.

·       This initiative aims to reduce the transmission of hepatitis through contaminated blood.

National AIDS Control Organization (NACO):

·       NACO, under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, works on preventing and controlling HIV/AIDS in India.

·       Given the co-infection risk between HIV and hepatitis, NACO’s efforts indirectly contribute to hepatitis prevention.

 

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