World Bulletin / News Desk
The World Health Organization (WHO) released on Wednesday its first guidelines for the treatment of hepatitis C, as safer and more effective medicines are made available.
Hepatitis C is a chronic infection, which kills around 350,000 to 500,000 people and affects 130 million to 150 million people per year.
"The WHO recommendations are based on a thorough review of the best and latest scientific evidence," said the leader of WHO's Global Hepatitis Program, Dr. Stefan Wiktor, in a press conference at the UN Office in Geneva.
"The new guidance aims to help countries to improve treatment and care for hepatitis and thereby reduce deaths from liver cancer and cirrhosis," Wiktor said.
Egypt has the highest rate of hepatitis C in the world, as around 10 percent of Egyptians are infected with the chronic disease, according to Wiktor. The entire population of Egypt should be tested, he said.
The challenge with hepatitis C, which is currently unaffordable to most patients in need, is to ensure that everyone can access them, said Dr. Peter Beyer, Senior Advisor for the Essential Medicines and Health Products Department at WHO.
The prices for hepatitis C treatment range from $2,000 for a 48-week period in Egypt to $84,000 for a 12-week period in the U.S. These prices for treatment remain unaffordable to most people in need for treatment, according to the WHO.
Rates of new hepatitis C infections remain high in many countries because of the reuse of infected equipment and the lack of screening of blood.
‘’Many people remain unaware - sometimes for decades - that they are infected with hepatitis C," said Dr. Andrew Ball, a senior advisor at WHO.Last Mod: 09 Nisan 2014, 15:16