Tackling Hepatitis C
Governments across the world will have to face up to the challenges posed by the hepatitis C (HCV) pandemic or experience spiralling healthcare costs, says the Economist Intelligence Unit in its report The silent pandemic: Tackling hepatitis C with policy innovation.
The report, made possible as a result of an educational grant from Janssen, challenges countries to use co-ordinated strategies to tackle HCV but warns that this will not be easy because few countries understand the magnitude of the disease. The report finds that in the European Union, only the Netherlands has the kind of epidemiological data robust enough to inform policy.
What the report highlights is that because levels of awareness are so low, many people only receive an HCV diagnosis when diagnosed with its end-stage conditions such as cirrhosis or liver cancer. Poor healthcare practices, such as failing to screen donated blood and the use of unsterilised medical equipment, are the cause of millions of cases in the developing world.
The report concludes that countries need to improve the data they have in order to introduce a comprehensive approach to tackling HCV. This will include raising awareness about the disease, taking preventative measures, especially within health services, and making a real effort to reach vulnerable patient groups with available treatments before end-stage conditions develop.