600 patients to benefit from Hepatitis C treatment programme
-Guyana leads Caribbean region
Some 600 persons living with Hepatitis C are now able to access affordable treatment for the first time through Guyana’s first Hepatitis C treatment programme.
The initiative was made possible through a collaboration between the government and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO).
Under the initiative, government purchased Hep C medications to the tune of US$160 per patient, a huge mark down from the original cost of US$2,000.
Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony noted that because of the high cost of Hepatitis treatment, government was only able to provide consultation to patients. He said the treatment programme is a huge accomplishment for the country.
“We should also be very proud because this, as I am aware, is the first such programme in the Caribbean, and so we are leading the way and I think also that that is a very positive thing,” he said at the launch of the programme Thursday, at the Guyana Marriott Hotel.
He said government will set the tone for other countries to eradicate the disease.
He explained that, “If we want the rest of the region to follow what we have done then we have to do the research. We have to do the documentation and I would really like to see them publish on this particular experience…I think once we are able to do that, we will be able to contribute to reducing hepatitis not just in Guyana but reducing hepatitis in the rest of the Caribbean.”
The programme was launched on ‘World Hepatitis Day’ to signify Guyana’s historic achievement and fits into government’s commitment to enhance health services for Guyanese.
With the availability of treatment, Minister Anthony said government will be able to prevent patients from developing cirrhosis of the liver as well as cancer, ‘therefore preventing these complications that patients would normally have’.
The ministry has already assembled a team to diagnose, consult and offer treatments to patients at the National Treatment and Care Centre (NTCC) on specific days. Should the need arise, government will be ready to extend treatment hours and add more clinic space to accommodate all patients requiring treatment.
Persons interested in getting screened for hepatitis can do so at the ministry’s blood bank.
This year ‘World Hepatitis Day’ is being celebrated under the theme ‘Bringing Hepatitis Care Closer to You’. Chief Medical Officer, Dr Narine Singh and PAHO/WHO Representative to Guyana, Dr Luis Codina were present at the launch.