Monday, July 30, 2012

Hepatitis programs in Egypt improved disease burden

July 30, 2012
Progress has been made in the prevention of the spread of hepatitis C virus in health care situations in Egypt, but a comprehensive plan to prevent and control the disease is needed, according to results in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Egypt has a 10% prevalence of chronic hepatitis C among those aged 15 to 59 years, making it the largest burden of the virus worldwide, according to the report. Inadequate infection control during medical and dental procedures is the primary reason for this burden. In 2001, the Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population (MOHP) created a program to reduce this burden. A care and treatment program was launched in 2008.

Among patients receiving dialysis, the annual incidence of hepatitis C reduced from 28% to 6%, mostly in part to infection control programs implemented at MOHP facilities. In addition, there have been 23 hepatitis treatment facilities established in the country, which have provided care to almost 190,000 people with the disease.

During 2001, there were nearly 280 million injections given in Egypt, and an estimated 8% of these may have been unsafe. When the MOHP facilities were assessed, the following were found: there were few health care workers with knowledge of infection control; there were few infection control programs in the facilities; there was little understanding about standard precaution among health care workers; and there were inadequate procedures for equipment reprocessing, sterilization and waste management. Infectious control guidelines were developed in 2003, and after the implementation, improvements were observed.

The MOHP created the National Committee for the Control of Viral Hepatitis in 2006, which developed a National Control Strategy for Viral Hepatitis. This strategy called for effective surveillance, prevention measures to reduce the spread of both hepatitis B and hepatitis C and expansion of access to care and treatment. The program has cost the Egyptian government $80
million annually.

CDC. MMWR. 2012;61:545-549.

The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.

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