The Ministry of Health yesterday launched a campaign in which some four million Rwandans will be screened for Hepatitis C and treated in the next five years.
Dr Diane Gashumba, the Minister for Health, said the prevalence of Hepatitis C in the country is estimated at 5 per cent. She said further research will be conducted to establish the exact prevalence.
“We intend to screen everybody and our goal is to treat at least four million people and administer treatment wherever is needed,” she said, adding that the Government has the capacity to treat the disease.
“We are going to invest as a government, we are very committed.”
The ministry has, in the past, screened about 700,000 people and provided treatment to them.
The minister said that Clinton Health Access Initiative, Partners in Health and pharmaceutical firms are some of the partners that have demonstrated commitment to work with the Government to contain Hepatitis C.
The campaign seeks to emphasise prevention, she saidn.
“We are not only campaigning for screening and treatment, we want to put much emphasis on helping the community to help avoid new cases of Hepatitis,” said Gashumba.
Hepatitis C is mostly transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse – in blood and other fluids. It can also be transmitted from the infected mother to a child during pregnancy or delivery.
“Hepatitis can be treated and cured,” the minister said.
She said the Government was in the process of reducing the treatment cost from $100.
A person who tests positive for Hepatitis C, the minister said, has to undergo a three-month treatment.
Ira Magaziner, from the Clinton Health Access Initiative, said that they were working with the Government to reduce the cost of treatment.
The cost for testing for the disease was reduced from Rwf5,000 to Rwf800.
Jeannine Condo, the Director of Rwanda Biomedical Centre, sad that all medical doctors in district hospitals were trained on how to test and treat patients suffering from Hepatitis.