The Ghana Health Service in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and other partners in the health sector has launched the Free Treatment Viral Hepatitis C Project. One objective of the project is to raise awareness and increase public support for the project. It is designed to reach all corners of the country from the largest cities to the smallest villages to ensure that everyone is aware of the disease and knows how to get tested and treated.
The Director General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye in his welcome address at the program stated that the purpose of the launch was to a project to Stop Hepatitis C in Ghana. He said it is a celebration of the first step to making effective viral Hepatitis C medicines available to Ghanaians at no cost, ensuring that everyone who needs treatment can access it. The Director-General used the occasion to thank the Arab Republic of Egypt for supporting the project. He stated that Ghana and Egypt have had a very good relationship since the 1950s which the country is still benefiting from in terms of training.
Dr. Kuma-Aboagye further highlighted that Ghana has been battling Hepatitis C disease for a long time due to inadequate medication. He therefore expressed gratitude to the Egyptian Ambassador and the government of Egypt for the intervention. He said that Ghana will tap into the Egyptian experience in the course of the collaboration until Ghana can eliminate Hepatitis C. Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye ended his address by acknowledging the Egypt Government again for the continuous support to the country with Covid-19 vaccines.
Hon. Mahama Asei Seini, a Deputy Health Minister who read a statement on behalf of the Minister for Health, Hon. Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, noted that Viral hepatitis remains a major public health problem in Ghana and continues to affect many Ghanaians. He stated that in 2021, Ghana had the support of the coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination headed by Prof John Ward to better understand the epidemiological picture of the disease and the availability of facilities to diagnose it. The study also ascertained the economic burden on families. He stated that it was a great joy to learn that the Arab Republic of Egypt has had more problems with Hepatitis C but is on the path of eliminating Hepatitis C through the application of new-generation medicines called Direct Acting Antivirals. He revealed that by 2019, the country sought to extend the medication to assist one million Africans to get treated for Hepatitis C. This led to the establishment of the Presidential Initiative to treat one million Africans with Hepatitis C. The deputy minister in his statement also expressed gratitude to the Government and people of the Arab Republic of Egypt through the Ambassador, for their very kind gesture which he believes will continue till they can meet the initial target of treating 50,000 patients.
On his part, the Egyptian Ambassador to Ghana H.E. A. Mahmood Youssef in a speech noted that in 2014, Egypt embarked on an aggressive screening and treatment program that evolved into a national strategy to eliminate HCV as a public health threat by 2021. He listed the five key elements that contributed to Egypt’s successful HCV elimination program which include; sufficient and reliable epidemiologic data to quantify and monitor public health threats, a robust public health care infrastructure, inclusive care that reached all sectors of society, political commitment to public health through increased health care spending and a comprehensive long-term national control strategy and innovative scientific research and use of information technology. In giving details , the Ambassador said in 2021, President AL-Sisi, launched the initiative to treat one million African citizens for Hep C in 18 African countries and Ghana is among the first beneficiary country.
The Ambassador concluded his speech by saying half of the world’s population continues to suffer from lack of access to basic and adequate health services, which affects efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)3. He urged the development partners to work on finding solutions for a better life for all citizens and promote primary health care as a key human right to a decent life which universal healthcare efforts can only be achieved through access to medicine and health technology.