As soon as next year Ukraine will not provide treatment for patients with hepatitis C for the public funds. The State Program on prevention, diagnosis and treatment of viral hepatitis for 2013-2016 ends this year. If the Cabinet of Ministers fails to continue this State Program, treatment of hepatitis will become unavailable for the Ukrainian patients. Today, on the World Hepatitis Day the CF «Patients of Ukraine» and 42 NGOs addressed to the Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Groysman and acting Health Minister Ulyana Suprun with an open appeal calling to continue the social State Program on treatment of viral hepatitis.
It should be emphasized that in 2012 when there was no State Program the most Ukrainian patients with hepatitis C could not afford this treatment because of its high cost. For example, a treatment course with pegylated interferon cost about 15 thousand dollars. After adoption of the Program the cost of one year treatment due to public wholesale procurement decreased three times — down to 5 thousand dollars.
«Now Ukraine faces a choice: either to provide the necessary treatment to the patients and contain the epidemic of hepatitis or to roll back to 2012, when the patients with hepatitis C were condemned to a slow death. If the Government does not continue the State Program, Ukraine will not be able to procure medicines for special prices, which the patients fought for so long. In fact, this means that the State condemns all patients with hepatitis C to a slow death because treatment will become unaffordable for ordinary Ukrainians», indicated Olga Stefanyshyna, Executive Director of CF «Patients of Ukraine».
Today due to effective organization of the medicines procurement through the international organizations Ukraine purchased pegylated interferon for about 2500 USD for treatment course, which is 35% cheaper than the price paid by MoH in 2014. Additionally, international organizations also purchased innovative medicine Sofosbuvir for 1460 USD, which is 63 times cheaper than the price for this medicine in the USA.
Ukraine ranks first among the European countries for hepatitis C incidence. In Ukraine about 9-10% of the population is infected with hepatitis С, while its incidence in the European countries varies from 0,13% to 3,26%.
Another problem is in the lack of official register of patients with hepatitis in Ukraine, neither is there a large-scale screening in place. At the same time according to the experts’ estimates about 3,5 million citizens suffer from this deadly disease.
«I was infected with hepatitis B and C in the Ohmatdyt when I was 5 years old. Medications for hepatitis are very expensive. I’ve been living with this disease over 20 years. Like thousands of other patients, I cannot afford the necessary medications. This year thanks to the State Program I received not only treatment, but also a chance to live a full life without hepatitis», reported Iryna Revenko, a patient with hepatitis C, a representative of the CF «Patients of Ukraine». Every day we received calls from the patients and 90% of all calls come from the patients with hepatitis C, who found themselves in the dead-end. Though the State Program is underfunded, still it allows many patients to receive medicines paid by the state and combat this deadly disease, she added.
Officially Ukraine reports 44 thousand patients with hepatitis C who need treatment, but only 5% receive medicines paid under the State Program.
For your information:
Experience of Georgia, where the government assumed responsibility for fighting the epidemic in the country under the ten-year program on elimination of hepatitis C and successfully fights the deadly disease is a good example for Ukraine.
The Georgian government announced 2015 the year of combating hepatitis C. Already in 2015 about 5 million patients in Georgia received free medicines and further it is planned to increase the number of treated patients up to 20 thousand.
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