Saudi Arabia launches campaign to eradicate Hepatitis C by 2030

The program includes several campaigns aiming to reach more than 5 million people

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A national awareness campaign on the risk of Hepatitis C was launched in Saudi Arabia last week by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with Abbvie, a global biopharmaceutical company.

The campaign, under the slogan “reassure,” is planned in a number of cities around the country and its activities throughout the year. In Jeddah, the event was held at King Fahd General Hospital on Thursday.

The Ministry of Health said the program includes several campaigns aiming to reach more than 5 million people. The campaign is not only to enhance society’s awareness, but also to increase the number of patients successfully treated with the ultimate goal of eradicating the disease by 2030.

The campaign aims to increase awareness about Hepatitis C as well as modern treatments by providing awareness lectures for doctors, having educational days for patients in hospitals, launching events in malls and spreading research and scientific material on social media.

The Hepatitis C medication coordinator in the Ministry of Health’s preventive medicine department, said that new treatments and medicines were available for patients.

He also said that several Hepatitis C centers are opening around the country. In the past nine months, around 20 centers for the disease have been opened in Saudi Arabia. The last center was opened in al-Qunfadah.

There are also two Saudi pharmaceutical companies that have started producing Hepatitis C medication.

According to Abdullah al-Ghamdi, hepatology and gastroenterology consultant in King Fahd General Hospital in Jeddah, there are around 100,000 people in the Kingdom with Hepatitis C, the majority of them in their 40s and 50s.

He said that new treatments and medication can be used to help patients recover in a shorter time. In the past, recovery period was around six months to a year, but that current treatments have reduced that to three to six months maximum.

This article first appeared in the Saudi Gazette on May 31, 2016.