80pc hepatitis C patients ‘live symptom-free for years’
Dubai, July 15, 2014
About 80 per cent of hepatitis C patients live symptom-free for years without knowing they are infected, according to experts.
To control the spread of hepatitis C in the UAE, experts have called for mass awareness by advising people to identify common symptoms like fever, fatigue, nausea, muscle and joint pain, jaundice to undertake screening tests.
Roche in partnership with the Emirates Gastroenterology Society and Charities in UAE are implementing the Hepatitis C Patients Accelerate programme to address the issue and improve patient access to treatment.
Under the programme, a toll-free number has been established for people seeking information. The programme will guide an individual to free test centres, diagnosis centres and advise on how to seek help if a patient is financially challenged.
As many as 1970 people have been enrolled in the programme, with 322 patients receiving treatments through charities and NGOs.
Dr Mariam Al Khatery, president of Emirates Gastroenterology Society, said: “Hepatitis C is a silent disease which often goes unnoticed and misdiagnosed as the symptoms do not develop for years, and when they do they can be similar to symptoms of other diseases. The disease is curable and people can go back to their normal lives if detected early and treated accurately. Hence, we urge people to identify symptoms and undertake screening tests without delay.
“Through our HCV Patient (Hepatitis C Virus) Accelerate programme run in association with charities in the UAE, we are not only educating people on HCV but also helping patients in need to get the best treatment.”
The programme run in association with leading charities in UAE like Red Crescent, Zakat Fund and Dar Al Ber Society, has been providing information to patients or public on the disease, prevention, diagnosis, treatments and methods of dealing with adverse events.
It offers free screening, diagnosis and follow-up tests for patients according to physician advice. If the patient is financially disadvantaged, the programme guides them on how to reach the appropriate charity, seek help and get treated with help of doctors. It also maintains regular checks and post treatment follow-ups to maintain post treatment adherence to medication by patients.
Slobodan Nedeljkovic, head of medical, Roche Middle East, said: “Our partnership to develop the HCV Patient Accelerate programme has been a part of our continuous efforts to control the spread of Hepatitis C in UAE, by increasing patient access to best quality treatment and fulfilling our commitment to society. We support the extensive work being done by charities, NGOs and medical community in increasing disease awareness, education of social workers and helping patients in need.”
Dr Al Khatery urges people who have received blood or blood component transfusion or an organ transplant before 1992; received hemodialysis; have any tattoos or body piercing; shared items that might have blood on them such as razors, nail clippers, scissors and toothbrush; have any household member who is hepatitis C positive; had any contact with blood at workplace; or if a person’s mother had hepatitis C when he was born – to take a blood test to determine the presence of the virus and seek accurate treatment at an early stage. - TradeArabia News Service