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Government negotiating with Egypt to lower hepatitis drugs cost

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

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