The World health Organization has affirmed that Egypt has become the first country to achieve the ‘gold tier’ status on the path of eliminating hepatitis C as per the organization criteria.
WHO disclosed that Egypt has fulfilled programmatic coverage targets that will set the country up to achieve the reduced incidence and mortality targets of full elimination before 2030.
WHO, made this known in a press statement on Monday, noted that achieving the gold tier means that Egypt has fulfilled the programmatic requirements that facilitate the reduction of new hepatitis C infections and deaths to levels that position the country to end the hepatitis C epidemic.
Hepatitis C is an inflammation of the liver caused by the hepatitis C virus. The virus can cause both acute and chronic hepatitis, ranging in severity from a mild illness to a serious, lifelong illness including liver cirrhosis and cancer.
Globally, 58 million people are living with chronic hepatitis C infection. While there is no vaccine, the disease can be cured with highly effective and curative short-course treatments that last eight to 12 weeks.
However, four out of five people living with hepatitis C do not know that they are infected. Unless treated or cured, the infection can cause liver disease and cancer.
“Egypt has diagnosed 87 percent of people living with hepatitis C and provided 93 per cent of those diagnosed with curative treatment, exceeding the WHO gold tier targets of diagnosing at least 80 percent of people living with hepatitis C and providing treatment to at least 70 percent of diagnosed people,” the statement read partly.
“Egypt’s journey from having one of the world’s highest rates of hepatitis C infection to being on the path to elimination in less than 10 years is nothing short of astounding,” said WHO Director General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus.
“Egypt is an example to the world of what can be achieved with modern tools, and political commitment at the highest level to use those tools to prevent infections and save lives. Egypt’s success must give all of us hope and motivation to eliminate hepatitis C everywhere.”
The global health body said Egypt has successfully transitioned from having one of the highest rates of hepatitis C in the world to one of the lowest by reducing the prevalence of hepatitis C from 10 per cent to 0.38 percent in just over a decade.
“Through close cooperation with the WHO Country Office in Egypt, and with support from all three levels of the Organization, the Ministry of Health and Population has successfully expanded its financial and technical resources over the years to realize the vision to eliminate hepatitis C as a public health problem,” it said.
“I am filled with pride and joy as I witness the historic moment of having Egypt recognized internationally as the first country to have achieved this remarkable progress towards eliminating the disease,” said WHO Representative in Egypt, Dr Naeema Al Gasseer.
“I have witnessed first-hand the extraordinary efforts that the Ministry of Health and Population has undertaken during the past decade to eliminate this public health threat. The Ministry has been driven by the highest political commitment and by solidarity, equity and inclusion to provide services to everyone living in Egypt, without discrimination and as a universal human right.
“This milestone coincides with the 75th anniversary of WHO this year and is a clear embodiment of its vision: improving public health and achieving health for all,” she added.
According to the 2023 WHO Guidance for country validation of viral hepatitis elimination and path to elimination, countries can apply for full validation of gold, silver or bronze tiers on the path to elimination based on achieving relevant targets.
Egypt is the first country that applied for validation and achieved gold tier status on the path to elimination, meaning that it is well on its way towards reaching all elimination targets before 2030.