9.2m in Mena 'hit by chronic Hepatitis C'
Dubai, July 27, 2011
Hepatitis C is highly prevalent in the Mena region with approximately 9.2 million individuals infected with this condition, according to a report.
The announcement was made at a press conference in Dubai on World Hepatitis Day, attended by international and Mena scientific medical experts.
The consensus statement resulted from a 12-country study in the Mena region in 2010 by the international scientific agency PharmARC with support from MSD, a global healthcare leader.
The study comprised a search of the literature gauging the opinion of selected hepatitis C experts from the Mena region. Following the outcome of this research the experts met as a ‘clinical network’ and authored a White Paper on the Socio-Economic Burden of Hepatitis C to generate regional patient management and infection prevention recommendations, as well as country-specific research and initiatives to guide efforts toward addressing the hepatitis C challenges.
As per the conclusions reached by the hepatitis C experts Hepatitis C is highly prevalent in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region with variations in prevalence from country to country.
An estimated 9.2 million people with chronic hepatitis C infection reside among the countries included in the study. Experts estimate that only one third of those infected have been diagnosed.
For most Mena countries, the prevalence of hepatitis C antibody positivity is estimated to be between 1 – 2 per cent; the exception is Egypt for which the estimated prevalence is around 14 per cent for adults aged 15-60 years.
HCV genotype 4 (HCV-4) is particularly common in Mena, where it is responsible for 30-80 per cent of HCV infections.
Most countries have major deficiencies in their information and co-ordination systems, critical for the implementation of hepatitis C services.
“Because our findings shed further light on the seriousness of the hepatitis C in Mena and because insufficient attention has been given to addressing the problem in a region - which has one of the highest prevalence of infection anywhere in the world - we agreed that our conclusions and recommendations should underpin a consensus statement on hepatitis C in Mena," said Professor David Goldberg, professor of Public Health and Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Scotland.
"We believe that such a statement will raise awareness of the problem among the population at large and people who have a responsibility for providing services to prevent both hepatitis C infection among those currently uninfected and hepatitis C related disease among infected individuals,” he added.
According to the White Paper on the Socio-Economic Burden of Hepatitis C, in some Mena countries, particularly those with a lower gross domestic product (GDP), a major route of infection is exposure to unsterile equipment in healthcare settings. The experts urge that strict infection control measures must be implemented according to best standard practices.
In some Mena countries, an increasing number of people are becoming infected through injecting drug use and tattooing practices; for that reason, all countries should be aware of, and respond to, the emerging hepatitis C transmission threats posed by such behaviour.
The scientific medical experts call for a systematic approach to the collection of information on hepatitis C to improve the understanding of the size of the populations at risk, infected, diagnosed and treated populations, and the proportion of the infected population who have advanced liver disease. In addition, raising patients' awareness on the risks and treatment options needs to be improved. -TradeArabia News Service