Almost 53,000 people with the hepatitis C virus have been registered in Ukraine officially.
Acting Ukrainian Health Minister Ulana Suprun says about 2 million people in Ukraine are infected with the hepatitis C virus.
“According to recent estimates, about 5% of Ukrainians are infected with the hepatitis C virus. In fact, there are two million Ukrainians, many of whom are not even aware of their status,” Suprun said at a press conference, titled “Hepatitis C is no longer a verdict: All patients in the line will receive free treatment.”
She said that family doctors in 2018 would receive test kits for diagnosing the hepatitis C virus in high-risk groups of patients.
“To date, almost 53,000 people with hepatitis C have been registered in Ukraine officially. Many people do not even apply [for treatment] or register because they do not believe they will be provided with assistance. But it won’t be like this anymore. Hepatitis C is no longer a verdict. Patients with the hepatitis C virus who are in line for treatment have started receiving high-quality and modern medicines for free this year,” Suprun said.
“About 6,000 patients are being treated with the use of budget funds in 2018. These are people who now need treatment immediately, because they have either co-infection of HIV, or those are women planning a pregnancy, or others who already have complications related to the disease,” she added.
Suprun says that this year it will be possible to treat 2,500 patients who have applied for treatment.
The minister claims that far more patients are expected to be treated in 2019.
“How is it possible? Many of us realize that mainly expensive drugs are purchased through public procurement. But now the Ministry of Health of Ukraine will purchase an innovative medicine that will not cost US$8,500 as in the United States. This year we will be able to buy the same medicines for $89,” he said.
“We plan to present a new strategy on our website today to fight against hepatitis,” she said, adding that a month would be given to discuss the strategy in order to develop a systematic approach to combating hepatitis, not only with respect to medical treatment, but also with regard to its early detection and preventive measures.
- Médecins Sans Frontières: Out of darkness: Fighting hepatitis C in Ukraine