Cameroon’s Public Health Minister, Dr. Manaouda Malachie, has announced the government is now shouldering the treatment cost for hepatitis C, a viral infection that causes liver damage.
Patients who previously paid FCFA 100,000 to obtain the hepatitis C medication will now obtain it free of charge in state hospitals.
Dr. Manaouda said, “patients suffering from this disease that the protocol based on the combination Sofosbuvir/Daclatasvir 400/60mg box of 28 tablets, which cost one hundred thousand (100,000) CFA francs, is now free”.
He called on staff of hepatitis treatment centers in the country to “ensure that the greatest number of patients benefit from this special measure”.
However, it is not clear if this free treatment will continue indefinitely.
The health Minister said the development comes on the heels of the national month for the fight against viral hepatitis.
Cameroon’s hepatitis C virus (HCV) prevalence stands at 4.9% among adults, making it one of the highest in the world.
This year, the government says its goal is to ease people’s access to treatment for the deadly disease.
Although 95% of hepatitis C patients can be cured, access to diagnosis and medication remains low, the WHO notes.
“Access to HCV treatment is improving but remains limited,” the WHO wrote.
“Of the 58 million persons living with HCV infection globally in 2019, an estimated 21% (15.2 million) knew their diagnosis, and of those diagnosed with chronic HCV infection, around 62% (9.4 million) persons had been treated with DAAs by the end of 2019.”
The Cameroon Government says people who have tested positive for the disease should immediately contact the nearest hospital for the free treatment.
Hepatitis C is an inflammation of the liver caused by the hepatitis C virus.
While about 30% of patients can recover from the virus without medication, chronic cases may cause liver cirrhosis and cancer.
According to experts, hepatitis C virus can be contracted through exposure to blood from unsafe injection practices.
It can also come from unsafe healthcare, unscreened blood transfusions, injection drug use and sexual practices that lead to exposure to blood.