The World Health Organization (WHO) has conferred upon the Arab Republic of Egypt the distinction of being the premier nation to achieve the esteemed “gold tier” status in its journey towards the complete eradication of hepatitis C, following WHO’s rigorous evaluative criteria. The attainment of this status implies that Egypt has successfully met the programmatic coverage milestones as delineated by WHO. Such accomplishments indicate the nation’s promising trajectory toward meeting the more demanding objectives of reduced incidence and mortality by the imminent year of 2030.
This commendable stride by Egypt has not gone unnoticed. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General, reflected on Egypt’s rapid transformation: “Within a mere decade, Egypt has transitioned from a nation grappling with one of the highest global incidences of hepatitis C to a nation forging its path to disease elimination. Such remarkable progress underscores the potency of contemporary medical tools when wielded with political will at its zenith. Egypt stands as a beacon, illuminating the possibilities for global health advancements and invigorating us with the zeal to universally eradicate hepatitis C.”
Moreover, WHO extends its accolades to the indefatigable efforts of the Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population, which remains steadfast in its commitment to reinforce screening, provide quality care, and offer treatment options for those afflicted with HCV. Egypt’s national initiative, the “100 million seha” campaign – translating to “100 million healthy lives” – stands as a testament to this commitment. Since its inception, this initiative has facilitated the screening of an astounding 60 million individuals, with therapeutic interventions provided to over 4 million. Consequently, the rate of new infections plummeted from 300 per 100,000 individuals in 2014 to a mere 9 per 100,000 in 2022. This statistic is tantalizingly close to the aspirational goal set for hepatitis C elimination, which is pegged at fewer than 5 new cases per 100,000 annually, a benchmark mirrored for deaths resulting from viral hepatitis.
Dr. Meg Doherty, at the helm of WHO’s Global HIV, Hepatitis, and STI Programmes, asserted, “Egypt’s achievements serve as a clarion call to myriad nations ardently working to obliterate hepatitis C, hepatitis B, and mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis B. The feats realized by Egypt are attainable by a plethora of nations, should they emulate Egypt’s model, employing available resources coupled with staunch political resolve. Yet, we must guard against resting on our laurels. While nations like Egypt have reached the coveted gold tier, the journey is far from over. The endgame is comprehensive elimination by 2023, and WHO pledges unwavering support in this pursuit.”
In light of such developments, WHO has unveiled its revised edition of the “Guidance for Country Validation of Viral Hepatitis Elimination and Path to Elimination.” This endeavor, carried out in tandem with collaborative partners, aims to bolster countries’ healthcare infrastructures. The overarching goal is to foster a patient-centric healthcare model that upholds the human rights of those with viral hepatitis while actively involving communities at all hierarchical levels in the battle against this ailment.