Guyana remains committed to ending Hepatitis through expanded testing and treatment strategies

Guyana joins the global community in the fight to raise awareness about the impact of hepatitis and reaffirm its commitment to combat this silent killer under the theme: “One life, one liver-
Scale up Access to Diagnosis and Treatment to Save Lives”. This year’s campaign emphasises the urgency of addressing hepatitis as a public health priority and the time to scale up access to testing and treatment.

Hepatitis is a group of viral infections that affect the liver, causing inflammation and potentially leading to severe liver diseases, including cirrhosis and liver cancer. The most common types are Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E, each with distinct transmission routes and health implications.

It is estimated that over 400 million people worldwide are living with hepatitis, with millions more unaware of their infection status. According to the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), there are more than 350 million people still living with this life-threatening disease. PAHO estimates that every 30 seconds someone loses their life to hepatitis B or C, making testing crucial. The WHO estimates that 5.4 million people live with hepatitis B and 4.8 million living with chronic hepatitis C in the Region of the Americas.

As part of the Government of Guyana’s effort and commitment to combat hepatitis, the Ministry of Health (MOH) recently launched the National Hepatitis Clinic at the National Care and Treatment Centre, in Georgetown. The clinic operates on Wednesdays and offers specialised care and treatment for individuals living with hepatitis. This facility provides a crucial platform for early detection, treatment, and support for patients, helping to improve the quality of life and reduce the burden of hepatitis in the nation.

Mid-last year, the MOH, with support from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) launched its first National Hepatitis B & C Testing and Treatment Guidelines, a guiding tool that governs the management and treatment protocol of hepatitis. 

Guyana has taken proactive measures to address the backlog of over 280 suspected cases of hepatitis C. With a focused effort on testing, diagnosis, and treatment, over 35 confirmed positive cases have already commenced their journey towards recovery. This successful initiative demonstrates Guyana’s dedication to leaving no one behind in the fight against hepatitis.

The MOH has managed to expand its testing and effective treatment services to all ten administrative Regions. Regional visits to screen individuals and provide essential treatments at various hospitals are conducted every quarter. This strategic approach brings healthcare services closer to the people and strengthens the health system’s capacity to tackle hepatitis effectively.

Further, Guyana has integrated regular testing for Hepatitis B and C at all Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) sites throughout the country. This approach empowers individuals to be proactive about their health, ensuring early diagnosis and prompt access to treatment if necessary.

As Guyana observed World Hepatitis Day 2023, the MOH remains committed to the global call for action in eliminating hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030. With the launch of the National Hepatitis Clinic, regional outreach efforts, and widespread testing at VCT sites, Guyana is paving the way for improved health outcomes and a brighter future for all.

World Hepatitis Day is observed annually on July 28 to raise awareness of viral hepatitis, which may lead to severe disease and liver cancer.