As part of the national plan to eliminate Viral Hepatitis C (HCV), Rwanda has so far screened 7 million people, including children and adults, and treated close to 60,000 people, according to Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC). Dr. Janvier Serumondo, the Director of Sexually Transmitted Infections and Viral Hepatitis Unit at RBC, says that although they have reached their target in screening and treatment, there are still some other indicators that need to be addressed. The country targeted to eliminate hepatitis C by 2024, where an estimated 4 per cent of the population in Rwanda lived with the virus while the prevalence of hepatitis B virus was at more than 3 per cent in 2015, data from RBC shows. As the world observes World Hepatitis Day today, July 28, Rwanda recognises achieved targets, but also looks forward to strengthening efforts in order to eliminate the virus. The global theme for this year is ‘Bringing hepatitis care closer to communities,’ while the national theme is; “Rwanda Cares: The Last Mile Towards Hepatitis Elimination.” There are so many indicators for hepatitis C elimination, screening, and treatment-related indicators are part of them, Serumondo says, adding that, “We reached screening and treatment targets but there are other indicators such as incidence and mortality which we are still working on.” Way forward Rwanda was recently named by Abbott, a global healthcare leader, as one of the countries in Africa which are progressing well in eliminating the hepatitis virus in the population. It is the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to have reached its last mile in eliminating the virus. The forward plan is to screen the remaining numbers and treatment of confirmed cases, preparation for WHO HCV elimination validation, strengthening of preventive interventions for Viral Hepatitis B (HBV), and increasing efforts toward HBV elimination, according to RBC. Emmanuel Niyonsenga, a public health officer at the Rwanda Pharmaceutical Students Association (RPSA), says that although there has been significant progress, more effort is still needed in completely eliminating the virus. “There are still some challenges, especially with awareness where few people have no idea why they should be screened and prevent hepatitis. We still need to put efforts in reaching people in lower communities to educate them on why they need screenings and vaccines, and why prevention is key,” he says. Throughout the years, Rwanda has made significant progress in implementing HCV control measures; including early screening of blood supply, training and enforcement of safe injection practices, the establishment of a Hepatitis program in 2011, and the publication of the first Viral Hepatitis National Guidelines in 2013. It was in 2018 that Rwanda committed to a challenge of eliminating hepatitis C by 2024. Initiatives such as raising community awareness, ensuring affordability of screening and treatment, and solidarity with international partners, has facilitated a lot in terms of being on track to achieving set targets. The estimated prevalence of chronic HCV and HBV has since dropped from 4 per cent and more than 3 per cent in 2015 to less than 0.39 per cent and 0.35 per cent respectively in 2022.