Malta is about to roll out a national plan to eradicate Hepatitis C from the country altogether, the government has announced.
The National Strategy for the Elimination of Hepatitis C Virus will see anyone who suffers from the sexually transmitted disease given free treatment from April onwards. They can expect to receive regular monitoring once treatment is complete, to ensure the virus was treated successfully.
This treatment will cure the disease in anyone suffering from the virus to the point that it is untraceable in the blood.
The new national strategy will come in four steps: prevention, screening, treatment, and governance and monitoring.
With this four-step strategy, the government believes it can destroy Hepatitis C in Malta by the year 2025, said Minister for Health Chris Fearne.
His sentiment was echoed by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.
— Government of Malta (@MaltaGov) February 14, 2018
This strategy follows the recommendation of the Ombudsman after his office had filed a complaint about a shortage of medicine for Hepatitis C patients.
Minister Fearne also said the new treatment had been approved and would be given for free by the Health Department. He said this would be costing the taxpayer €75,000 since there were some urgent cases.
He also said that another shipment of the medicine had been donated by the manufacturers of the medicine after President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca personally intervened and reached out to them.
The national strategy #Malta for the elimination of #hepatitisC virus was launched today for consultation and encompasses 1️⃣ Prevention 2️⃣ screening and diagnosis 3️⃣ treatment 4️⃣ monitoring and governance pic.twitter.com/FzDHtyDN3a
— Paula Vassallo (@paula_vassallo) February 14, 2018
Hepatitis C can be both acute and chronic, and can become a lifelong, serious illness to deal with. It can lead to chronic liver disease, and often comes with a co-virus, worsening the situation.
Due to the severity of the illness, a number of countries have pledged to eradicate the disease by at least 2030.
It is estimated that 71 million people worldwide suffer from chronic Hepatitis C. 400,000 people die from the disease each year.
It is a bloodborne virus, and is more common in people engaging in risky sexual behaviour as well as in drug users that share needles.