The government of Kenya through Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) is in a process of negotiating the price reduction of Harvoni, a drug that treats Hepatitis from Sh. 60,000 to Sh. 20,000.
Egypt who are one of manufacturers of the drug are expected to help the ministry of health by increasing access to Hepatitis C (Hep C) treatment and diagnostic of the same.
The Kenya Medical Research Institute virologist, Missiani Ochwoto said on Friday that despite 95 percent of individuals affected with Hep C and are treated and with the remaining 5 percent cases of re-infection being addressed, the drug is still expensive to the common mwananchi.
Ochwoto who was speaking during a media briefing on Viral Hepatitis, further stated that the government in
collaboration with University of Washington has proposed to procure 500 treatment doses of a different type of hepatitis drug ledipasvir/sofosbuvir 90mg/400mg that will cost Sh. 7.29 million (USD72,910).
“Currently over 400 clients across Nairobi, Mombasa, Kwale and Kilifi counties have received treatment,” he said.
According to Ochwoto, only 4,032 individuals were screened for Viral Hepatitis in December 2016 and Hep C was between 13 percent to 27 percent in Nairobi and Coastal area respectively.
“Recent result however shows a prevalence of less than five percent among people who inject drugs, “he said.
Ochwoto reiterated that screening and treatment for Hepatitis C will also be targeted at the service providers situated at the key population drop-in Centres given that they are at high risk of contracting the virus.
“The Ministry of Health has enough qualified trained health care workers in coast, Nyanza and Western to handle Hep C and treatment can be accessed at local health facilities,” he emphasised.
Ochwoto explained that with finalization of Viral Hepatitis guidelines the government has now embarked on rigorous roll out plan that will see treatment among the affected individuals scaled up in a bid to achieve epidemic control and micro elimination of viral hepatitis.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), globally two billion people are affected with Hepatitis, 60 million Africans are affected with Hepatitis B while 11 million suffer from Hepatitis C.
The WHO Medical Officer, Dr. Olufunmilayo LESI stated that Hepatitis is a global threat and if not eliminated will be the main cause of death by 2030 with Kenya being affected by the over one Million cases of Viral Hepatitis.
LESI called upon every country to come up with a strategic plan to be used as a road map to help in fighting Hepatitis and to develop a scorecard to provide vital information about the status of the regional hepatitis, response to measure progress against the Framework for Action for the Prevention, Care and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis in the African Region (2016-2020).
According to WHO new score card that examines hepatitis prevalence and response in the African region, only three of the 47 countries are on track to eliminate the disease that affects one in 15 people in the region.
By Yvonne Kadzo/ Dourice Abuto/Wangari Ndirangu