Rwanda has been named by Abbott, a global healthcare leader, as one of the countries in Africa which are progressing well in eliminating hepatitis virus in the population. This comes at the time the country targets to eliminate hepatitis C by 2024. The latest data from Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) shows that an estimated 4 per cent of the population in Rwanda lives with hepatitis C virus while the prevalence of hepatitis B virus is at 2 per cent. According to Janvier Serumondo, the Director of Viral Hepatitis and Sexually Transmitted Infections at RBC, some 6,028,443 people have been screened for the virus with 54,518 people treated out of the 129,549 who are positive. “The government focuses on the elimination of hepatitis through offering free treatment,” he said. In 2021, at least 1,500 doctors, nurses, lab technicians, and data managers trained in HBV and HCV management and treatment, he said, adding that viral hepatitis services are available in 560 facilities. Serumondo said that Rwanda aims to screen seven million people aged 15 years and above, treat all confirmed positive cases, and reduce HCV chronicity to 1 per cent by 2030. He however pointed out that the prevalence of HCV among people aged 55 increased to 16 per cent in 2017 dropped. “The cases dropped as we screened and treated positive cases that were in that range category, and we are planning on screening more to keep the numbers down,” he said. The fight against HCV was also accelerated by the reduction of treatment costs from $3,000 in 2014 to $60 as of 2019 under the country-based hepatitis elimination programme. Increased access to community-based health insurance—mutuelle de santé—also played a role. Dr. Kuku Appiah, Medical Director for Abbott’s rapid diagnostic business in Africa, said that they have been partnering with governments and leading hepatitis programs across Africa to support surveillance programs and provide reliable and affordable rapid diagnostic solutions. “Early screening and adequate treatment are encouraged, more efforts should be present for better health outcomes for patients and the whole population,” she said. Serumondo said that other key drivers of hepatitis elimination in Rwanda include community engagement, leadership involvement, access to testing and treatment, domestic funding, and services integration. More about Hepatitis Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver. Although hepatitis can be a symptom of many illnesses, including autoimmune diseases. It is most often caused by a viral infection. There are five main types of viral hepatitis — A, B, C, D, and E. Of those, hepatitis A, B, and C are the most common types. Hepatitis can be caused by drugs, alcohol, or other toxins, by infection with bacteria, viruses, or parasites, or when the body mistakenly attacks the liver (an autoimmune disease), according to the World Health Organization. In 2018 Rwanda set its sights on a new challenge, committing to eliminating hepatitis C by 2024. It was the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to propose a five-year HCV elimination plan that included initiatives such as raising community awareness, ensuring affordability of screening and treatment, and solidarity with international partners. If Rwanda achieves its goal, it will have done so six years ahead of the 2030 global target for elimination set by the World Health Organization.