500,000 to be screened for Hepatitis C in Eastern Province

Minister Gashumba observes how residents in Kiramuruzi, Gatsibo District were being screened for Hepatitis C on Wednesday. Jean de Dieu Nsabimana.

At least 500,000 people in Eastern Province will get free screening for Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) in the next 10 days as government accelerates efforts to eliminate the virus.

The exercise is part of the government’s five-year ambitious plan to eliminate the virus in the country.

During the five years, at least four million people will be screened countrywide, while 110,000 others will receive treatment.

The campaign was launched in the Eastern Province on Wednesday by the Minister for Health, Dr Diane Gashumba.

Sabin Nsanzimana, the Director-Generaal of Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), said that since July this year, at least one million people have been screened across the country. In the Eastern Province, 24,000 people will receive treatment over the next 10 days.

If not treated, Nsanzimana said, Hepatitis C can be a major cause of liver cancer.

Billed as the second-largest contributor of cancers in the country, the virus is prevalent among 4 to 8 per cent of Rwandan adults.

Fred Mufulukye, Governor of Eastern Province, said there are many projects in the pipeline that are designed to improve people’s lives.

“Together we can do more and better, that is why we have to eradicate this disease,” he noted.

Dr Gashumba described the exercise as a fulfilment of the commitment by President Paul Kagame to eradicate the disease in Rwanda.

“This disease is curable but one can live with the various for 20 or 25 years without knowing,” she said.

The five-year plan is estimated to cost $44 million (approximately Rwf40 billion), and according to the ministry, it will mainly focus on investing in new technologies to enable more effective and affordable care, and innovative models of service delivery to reach affected populations.

Optimism   

Josiane Tumugire, 23, from Gatsibo District, said she was found negative, but urged other residents to participate in the screening exercise.

“With this campaign, I have understood that we have a government that cares about its people,” she added.

Badru Mbonyabagabo, from Kiramuruzi Sector in Gatsibo District, said that; “I also heard that there’s another type of hepatitis... if we can be vaccinated or cured, that is good.”

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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