Guidelines for Hepatitis and Laboratory Strategy developed as Guyana offers cure for Hepatitis C

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With Guyana now being able to offer a cure for Hepatitis C, the health authorities here have now developed specific guidelines for all the country’s laboratories with the intention that there would be standardised care.

Hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver, can progress to liver failure, cirrhosis, and even cancer. Hepatitis C is the viral infection that causes the liver swelling. Hepatitis C is spread through contact with infected blood and a person can become infected through sharing needles or syringes, or from unsafe medical procedures such as blood transfusions with unscreened blood products.

At the launch of the guidelines and a laboratory strategy Wednesday, Dr. Ejaz Hatim, the Chief Resident of Internal Medicine at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation, who helped developed the guidelines, noted the advances Guyana has made in treating the infection. He said that that just a few years ago, persons who tested with Hepatitis C had access to no treatment.

“As recently as three years ago, patients diagnosed with hepatitis C faced…the added disheartening news that there was no available treatment. We had to inform them that regular surveillance was necessary to monitor the disease’s progression to either end-stage liver failure or cancer.

“We can now enlighten these patients about the availability of a cure. A 12 or 24-week regimen of very tolerable medication now has the potential to cure or, as we say in medical jargon, achieve a sustained virological response in patients affected by hepatitis C.

“This brings a beacon of hope, allowing patients to look forward to a potential cure and a normal, healthy life”, Dr Hatim stated.

Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony stressed the importance of having a standard when it comes to the operations of laboratories and dealing with Hepatitis.

“We felt that it is important to standardize what we’re doing at different levels. We want to have some standards and I think this strategy captures some of those standards we are looking for,” Dr Anthony stated.

The Hepatitis Guideline and Laboratory Strategy is amongst the first to be launched in the Caribbean region. The clinic in Guyana is the first in the Caribbean.

The launch of the guidelines was done by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO).

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