How hepatitis became a hidden epidemic in Africa
The five strains of viral hepatitis affect 400 million people around the world. Hepatitis B and C are the most deadly; these infections are blood borne, transmitted mainly through unsafe medical practices or injection drug use.6 Apr 2017
International awareness has grown following activist mobilisation denouncing the exorbitant prices of new drugs that can cure hepatitis C such as Solvadi, priced at US$1,000 a pill.
Viral hepatitis is a global epidemic with distinct regional patterns. In Europe, hepatitis C is mostly associated with injecting drugs but on the African continent, it is a generalised epidemic and a major public health issue.
In both 2010 and 2014, the World Health Organisation (WHO) called for action on the diseases and has since produced guidelines for testing for hepatitis B and C.
The case of viral hepatitis sheds light on the key challenges faced by health systems in Africa in relation to the prevention of infection, barriers to accessing care and treatments and social and economic equity.
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