On October 9, 2023, the World Health Organization (WHO) awarded Egypt a gold tier status on the path to eliminating hepatitis C. The certificate was presented by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. Egypt, once having the highest prevalence of hepatitis C globally, became the first country to undergo validation for elimination by WHO.
Egypt is currently viewed as a pioneer in hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment. There’s a projection that the nation could eradicate HCV among its populace by 2023, contingent on the escalation of its existing program. Approximately one in ten Egyptians was chronically infected with the virus, manifesting the highest prevalence.
The country embarked on an aggressive screening and treatment program in 2014, targeting the elimination of HCV as a public health threat by 2021. In 2015, Egypt’s HCV infection prevalence among adults was 7%, accounting for 7.6% of the nation’s mortality.
Through its committed efforts, Egypt has transitioned from one of the highest to one of the lowest rates of hepatitis C globally, reducing the prevalence from 10% to 0.38% in just over a decade4.
The global strategy endorsed by all WHO Member States aims to diminish new hepatitis infections by 90% and deaths by 65% between 2016 and 2030. A WHO study estimated that around 4.5 million premature deaths could be prevented in low- and middle-income countries by 2030 through vaccination, diagnostic tests, medicines, and education campaigns.
On World Hepatitis Day, recognized annually on July 28, the emphasis is on raising awareness concerning the global burden of viral hepatitis. In 2016, the World Health Assembly endorsed the elimination of viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030, which includes the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis B.
More than half (57%) of the countries in the Americas have national strategies or plans for the prevention, treatment, and control of viral hepatitis. However, only 54% of these countries have set goals for the elimination of hepatitis B.
The goal is to reduce the incidence of new cases from 6-10 million worldwide in 2015 to fewer than 1 million by 2030, and to decrease mortality from hepatitis B and C by 10% by 2020 and 90% by 20308.
The information indicates that while Egypt has made significant strides in combating hepatitis, especially hepatitis C, the global effort is an ongoing process with the aim of significantly reducing new infections and deaths from hepatitis by 2030.