World Health Organization, the authority responsible for public health oversight within the United Nations included Georgia’s Hepatitis C elimination program in its newsletter on June 23.
“A combination of strong political will, public support and experience gained in HIV prevention and control led to this new programme,” WHO writes on the Hepatitis C initiative pushed by Georgia’s health minister David Sergeenko.
The program, started in April of this year by Georgia’s Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs, aims at eliminating Hepatitis C in the country by making expensive drug group Sofosbuvir available to individuals included in it.
So far, 2042 individuals with HCV have begun the treatment, out of 7600 who applied in the beginning.
WHO writes that Hepatitis C is a strong candidate for elimination because humans are the only natural hosts of the virus and effective treatment is available. However, certain factors remain a challenge in the face of the virus, according to the organization:
“Yet, significant challenges remain, including the asymptomatic, chronic nature of HCV, which results in delayed diagnosis, transmission among hard-to-reach populations (such as those who inject drugs) with potential re-infection, and a large global burden of the disease, including in areas with limited access to effective, affordable diagnostics and treatment.”
Back in April, a US-based biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences that specializes in developing innovative medicines, stated to Reuters that it would use Georgia as a “test-bed” and a global example to demonstrate that Hepatitis C can be eliminated with proper government funding.
Giliead also emphasized that Georgia’s “manageable size” made it a desirable “laboratory” for Hepatitis C elimination.
Apart from Gilead, world’s leading organizations such as The National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC), US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), French consulting group Global Alliance, are assisting the Georgian government with its healthcare pioneering program.