According to the Association de Lutte Contre le SIDA (Fight Against AIDS), 5,000 Moroccans die of Hepatitis C every year, at a rate of 15 per day.
The press conference was an opportunity to present the current situation of the fight against Hepatitis C in Morocco. It also aimed at alerting the authorities and inciting them to adopt a national plan against hepatitis C.
According to Mehdi Karkouri, president of ALCS, 5,000 Moroccans die every year, 15 a day. Nearly 400,000 citizens are infected with the Hepatitis C virus and 16 others are newly infected each day.
The “silent” infection shows no warning signs or symptoms. Patients often come to know when they are diagnosed with cirrhosis or cancer, both consequences of untreated Hepatitis C.
The ALCS suggested that “with the new revolutionary antiviral medicines, very effective and marketed in Morocco at a relatively low cost, the infection mortality rates should no longer be inevitable.”
“Today, realistically, beneficiaries of “Ramed” (Medical Assistance Plan for the benefit of the poor) suffering from Hepatitis C do not have access to treatment because it is not available in hospitals,” says Mehdi Karkouri.
“Treatments have not been bought yet. If a national plan is launched, the Ministry of Health will launch a tender for such treatments which are available on the market,” he added.
ALCS also calls for the establishment of a free testing program for “Ramed” beneficiaries. “If screening reveals that the person is infected with the virus, they can be referred to treatment centers in hospitals and have access to treatment,” says Karkouri.
“Today, patients pay about MAD 13,500 from their own pockets for treatment,” said ALCS president.
Hepatitis C worldwide
Hepatitis C, both acute and chronic, is a liver disease caused by the Hepatitis C virus (HCV).
The Hepatitis C virus is bloodborne. The most common modes of infection are through exposure to small quantities of blood.
Infection may happen through injection drug use, unsafe injection practices, unsafe health care, transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products, and sexual practices that lead to exposure to blood.
The infection can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious lifelong illness.
In its 2017 Global Hepatitis Report, World Health Organization (WHO) mentioned that viral hepatitis caused 1.34 million deaths in 2015. Globally, WHO estimated that 71 million people were living with Chronic Viral Hepatitis C (HCV).
Most viral hepatitis deaths in 2015 were due to chronic liver disease (720 000 deaths due to cirrhosis) and primary liver cancer (470 000 deaths due to hepatocellular carcinoma).