Costly Hepatitis C treatment could soon be free in Guyana – Health Minister
Patients who suffer from Hepatitis C could soon get free treatment locally, reducing a significant financial burden, Health Minister Dr. Frank Anthony has said.
“We have taken a decision that we would be bringing in these medications, we will be starting those treatments for the patients we have on the database.
“So, in a couple months’ time we will start that process,” the Health Minister said at the sidelines of an event on Friday.
Hepatitis C, according to the United States (US) Mayo Clinic’s website, is an infection that causes liver inflammation, sometimes leading to serious liver damage. It spreads through contaminated blood.
Dr Anthony said that the ministry has been detecting infections through blood transfusion services. He explained that when the blood shows traces of the virus the persons are called and informed of the detection and counselled.
“…treatment was very costly and people couldn’t afford the treatment so on average at one point in time, to treat a patient with Hep C it was about US $80,000, that came down to about US$20,000 and now it’s at about US$2,000,” the Health Minister pointed out.
Now, however, the local health authorities are keeping to ease this financial burden.
“We are bringing the treatment to Guyana at a lot of high costs because these things are not cheap,” he highlighted.
Despite this newfound intention, the Health Minister explained that the goal is to outright prevent people from becoming infected.
He added that efforts must be made to prevent people who have the infection from getting cancer. Hepatitis C is first an acute infection then becomes chronic and can later form cancer cells- which may lead to severe illness and death.