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Rwanda intensifies campaign against Hepatitis C

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XINHUA FEB 29 2020

Rwanda on Saturday launched a fresh health campaign to step up the screening of more residents for Hepatitis C virus (HCV).

The campaign is aimed to reduce the hepatitis C virus prevalence from 4 percent to 1 percent and complete elimination of the disease by 2021, Tharcisse Mpunga, the Minister of State in charge of Primary Healthcare, said when speaking at the launch in Gatsibo district in eastern Rwanda.

Noting that it will also help to decrease the risks of cancers caused by the disease, the minister said under the campaign over 2000 Rwandans recently diagnosed with Hepatitis C will be initiated on lifesaving treatment.

The fresh campaign aims at accelerating the efforts to speed up the initial Hepatitis C elimination plan and end HCV by 2021 in Rwanda, said Mpunga.

The campaign follows previous HCV elimination drive launch championed by the First Lady of Rwanda Jeannette Kagame and supported by various partners.

In December 2018 Rwanda launched a five-year plan to detect and treat hepatitis C virus as part of a campaign that aims at eliminating hepatitis C in the country.

Officials said in Gatsibo district alone, the venue of the campaign launch, out of 90,806 residents who were screened for Hepatitis C, 2,544 were found to be suffering from the disease.

Through the hepatitis C virus five-year elimination plan that targets to eliminate hepatitis C in the central African country and reducing fatalities from the virus, Rwanda intends to screen over 4 million people aged 15 and above.

The campaign is being carried out through various surveillance points at health care units, hospitals, mobile clinics and other health facilities nationwide across the country, according to the ministry.

Globally, an estimated 71 million people have chronic hepatitis C infection, and approximately 399,000 people die each year from hepatitis C, mostly from cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma, according to the World Health Organization information issued in 2018.

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