Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Cameroon: Hepatitis C - Cost of Treatment Reduced

Cameroon: Hepatitis C - Cost of Treatment Reduced

Henceforth, patients will pay only 67 per cent of the cost of treatment.

By Elizabeth Mosima, 15 May 2012

Cameroon, officially the Republic of Cameroon (French: République du Cameroun), is a country in west Central Africa.

In order to alleviate the plight of patients, the cost of treatment of Hepatitis C was recently reduced. This was during the signing of an agreement between the government of Cameroon and Hoffmann La Roche Laboratories.

The President of the Cameroon Network against Viral Hepatitis, Professor Oudou Njoya said following the reduction, the cost of drugs has been cut by 33 per cent. According to the Memorandum Of Understanding, the biological follow up of patients per month has been reduced by 50 per cent. The ribavirin injection which originally cost FCFA 159,000 per injection will henceforth cost FCFA 106,000.

Apart from this, Hoffmann La Roche Ltd will train Cameroonian medical staff. Professor Njoya said since the reduction of the cost of the treatment, many patients have been coming for treatment. He explained that treatment for Hepatitis lasts from six months to one year.

Hepatitis C is more frequent in elderly people and no vaccine against the disease is available yet. It is an infectious disease that affects mainly the liver. It is caused by the Hepatitis (HCV). The infection is often asymptomatic, but chronic infection can lead to scarring of the liver and ultimately to cirrhosis, which is generally apparent after many years.

In some cases, those with cirrhosis will go on to develop liver failure, liver cancer or life-threatening esophageal and gastric varices. HCV is spread primarily by blood-to-blood contact associated with intravenous drug use, poorly sterilized medical equipment and transfusions. The virus persists in the liver in about 85 per cent of those infected.

The treatment comprises a combination of two drugs: peginterferon and ribavirin. Overall, 50 per cent to 80 per cent of people treated are cured. An estimated 130 million to 170 million people worldwide are infected with Hepatitis C. In Cameroon, the prevalence of Hepatitis C is 13 per cent. Cameroon is the second country in Africa to be affected by the disease. Egypt has the largest epidemic of Hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the world with a prevalence rate of 14.7 percent.

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