Of the 194 governments which pledged to end Hepatitis C by 2030, only nine countries are on track, revealed during the World Hepatitis Summit in Sao Paolo, Brazil.

Australia, Brazil, Egypt, Georgia, Germany, Iceland, Japan, the Netherlands and Qatar will eliminate hepatitis C by 2030, according to World Hepatitis Alliance.

These countries are taking positive steps such as mass screenings, promoting universal access to treatment medicines, mass production of generic copies of the medicines, and gradual lifting of treatment restrictions.

“What we are seeing is that some countries, especially those with a high burden, are making the elimination of viral hepatitis a priority and are looking at innovative ways to do it,” said Home Razavi, director of Center for Disease Analysis (CDA), a research facility based in Colorado, USA.

Brazil, the host country for the World Hepatitis Summit this year, was said to be leading the cause for treating hepatitis in the world stage.

“We are now gradually removing the restrictions on access to hepatitis C treatment - so that, from 2018 on, the entire infected population can be treated, not just the sickest,” said Adele Schwartz Benzaken, the Brazilian Ministry of Health’s Director for surveillance, prevention and control of STIs, HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis.

Hepatitis C, a bloodborne liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus, presents with fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, joint pain and jaundice. Unfortunately, about 80 percent of people infected do not manifest symptoms.

Seventy one million people are estimated to be suffering from chronic infection worldwide, whereas 399,000 die yearly of the disease, due to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma which resulted from chronic infection, World Health organization (WHO) figures show.

The WHO, relatedly, revealed that a record 3 million had access to hepatitis C treatment - a positive development.

However, fully-eliminating hepatitis C and achieving the targets will need “huge scale-up in political will and access to diagnostics and treatment,” the Director Razavi added. MIMS

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