Where is Canada’s plan to eliminate hepatitis C? - André Picard
2019-07-09 from theglobeandmail.com
Nine countries – Australia, France, Iceland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland and Britain – are on track toward eliminating hepatitis C by 2030.
Like those countries, Canada signed a pledge to eliminate the debilitating, potentially deadly infectious disease, HCV.
But, unlike those countries, Canada doesn’t have a plan.
So, a group of liver experts, the Canadian Network for Hepatitis C (CanHepC), took it upon themselves to do the work of policy-makers and produce a “Blueprint to Inform Hepatitis C Elimination Efforts in Canada.”
The document presents a no-nonsense menu of options for the prevention and treatment of HCV, with specific recommendations on how Canada can achieve elimination by 2030.
Now it’s up to federal, provincial and territorial governments to act on the advice.
Before getting into the details of what needs to be done, it’s worth reflecting on why HCV has become a global priority.
The hepatitis C virus, a leading cause of liver disease and the need for liver transplantation, was identified only in 1989.
In 2013, HCV became the only chronic infectious disease for which there is a simple, effective cure – one daily pill for 8-12 weeks.
Globally, 71 million people are living with chronic HCV infection, and it kills more than 400,000 people annually.
In Canada, there are an estimated 250,000 people living with HCV. Because the virus eats away slowly at the liver, many people don’t know they’re infected until they have advanced liver disease or liver cancer.
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