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Avellon Williams

GEORGETOWN, GUYANA – To eradicate viral hepatitis, Guyana has launched its first hepatitis C treatment program says the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO). 

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According to PAHO, Guyana received rapid testing kits and lifesaving medicines during World Hepatitis Day last week.

“Even though viral hepatitis remains a global health threat, Guyana’s leadership is an opportunity to demonstrate how national authorities, civil society, and other stakeholders are working together to eradicate it,” said Dr. Luis Felipe Codina, the PAHO/World Health Organisation (WHO) representative for Guyana.

Dr. Luis Felipe Codina, the PAHO/WHO /Image, GC/

According to PAHO, Guyana’s new hepatitis C campaign, spearheaded by the Minister of Health, is part of a global effort to eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030.

Earlier this year, the World Health Assembly renewed these commitments in new Global Health Sector Strategies (GHSS) on HIV, STIs, and viral hepatitis.

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“The primary source of data on hepatitis in Guyana comes from blood donors, dialysis patients, and HIV/STI patients to some extent,” said Dr. Rainier Escalada, a PAHO Advisor on Health Surveillance, Disease Prevention, and Control, who is launching a hepatitis C campaign in the country and is working with about 600 patients.

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As a general term, hepatitis refers to inflammation of the liver, which can have multiple causes. Infections transmitted by viruses, such as Hepatitis B and C, account for a significant proportion of cases and deaths worldwide.

According to PAHO, 57 percent of liver cirrhosis cases and 78 percent of primary liver cancer cases are caused by hepatitis B or C.

It is said that a newborn who is vaccinated against hepatitis B within 24 hours of birth will be protected for the rest of his or her life.

Vaccinated against hepatitis B /Image, NM/

A three-month medical treatment consisting of oral tablets is an effective (90%) cure for hepatitis C, a bloodborne infection.

Hepatitis C treatment is prohibitively expensive for most countries in the region due to a complex patent protection system, but PAHO has been able to facilitate access to several countries.

In recognition of World Hepatitis Day each year on July 28, a day that raises awareness of viral hepatitis, a disease that can lead to severe liver disease and cancer.

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Approximately 350 million people worldwide suffer from the life-threatening disease, and hepatitis B or C claims a life every 30 seconds.

In the Region of the Americas, which includes the Caribbean, around 5.4 million people live with chronic hepatitis B and 4.8 million with chronic hepatitis C, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). 

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Avellon Williams

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