washington. (Pan American Health Organization). On World Hepatitis Day, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is urging countries to rapidly scale up diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis B and C to achieve the goal of eliminating hepatitis in the region by 2030.
Hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver that can lead to serious illness and death, affects more than 10 million people in the Americas. Although hepatitis can become chronic, it can be effectively controlled with medication if detected early.
However, only 18% of people with hepatitis B and 22% of people with hepatitis C in the Americas knew they had the disease. Of these, only 3% of patients with hepatitis B and 18% of patients with hepatitis C received treatment.
This is largely due to a continued lack of investment in hepatitis diagnostics and drugs that, in the case of hepatitis C, can cure the disease in as little as 12 weeks.
Examination and Treatment
Although immunization programs have enabled the Americas to substantially reduce mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis B, “more than 100,000 people die each year from liver cancer or cirrhosis caused by hepatitis B and C,” said Jabas, director of the Pan American Health Organization. Dr. Jarbas Barbosa said. . “These deaths could be prevented if we increased the availability of testing and treatment services.”
“One of the major barriers to treating chronic viral hepatitis is the perception that the necessary medicines are too expensive for countries,” said Dr Leandro Sereno, Regional Advisor for Hepatitis Prevention and Control at the Pan American Health Organization. “However, the cost of treating hepatitis has decreased significantly over the past decade due to the increased availability of generic drugs in the region.”
Countries in the region can also purchase medicines to treat hepatitis through the PAHO Regional Revolving Fund, a technical cooperation mechanism for the joint procurement of medicines, diagnostics, vaccines and life-saving medical devices.
Proprietary products to treat hepatitis C at less than half their original cost, as well as affordable generic options, are now available through the fund, giving countries the opportunity to scale up treatment on a massive scale.
World Hepatitis Day is celebrated annually on 28 July as an opportunity to reflect on progress and achievements in the fight against hepatitis, and to fill the gaps in eliminating this disease as a public health problem.
This year’s theme, “One Life, One Liver,” reveals the silent role the liver plays in more than 500 vital functions that keep us alive. That’s why it’s so important to prioritize liver health and understand our hepatitis health.
Approximately 5.4 million people in the Americas are living with hepatitis B and 4.8 million are living with hepatitis C. Only 18 percent of people with hepatitis B and 22 percent of people with hepatitis C knew they had the disease.
Three percent of hepatitis B patients and eighteen percent of hepatitis C patients were treated. Approximately 100,000 people die each year in the Americas from hepatitis-related causes due to lack of access to diagnosis and treatment.
Treatment costs up to $150
The price of hepatitis C treatment has dropped to US$ 80 to US$ 150 for a 12-week treatment cycle for countries that have signed the agreement, thanks to the introduction of generic drugs provided through the PAHO regional revolving fund.
Vaccination against hepatitis B is now included in the programs of all countries and territories in the Americas.
Over the past 5 years, more than 31 million doses of hepatitis B vaccine have been purchased by 38 countries in the region through the PAHO Regional Revolving Fund. Likewise, 16 countries in the region purchased more than 3.8 million doses of diagnostic tests and some 25,000 doses of vaccines. Hepatitis treatment.