World Hepatitis Day 2017 - CPI announces key new partnership to combat hepatitis C

July 28, 2017

Today, World Hepatitis Day, Community Partners International (CPI) is delighted to announce a new partnership to help combat hepatitis C in Myanmar. Through this partnership, CPI will work to improve prevention and treatment services for populations at high risk of hepatitis C.

The partnership is supported by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the EQUIP consortium led by Right To Care.

Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus, a blood-borne virus most commonly transmitted through exposure to small quantities of blood. In its chronic form, hepatitis C is a serious, lifelong illness and is particularly dangerous for people with weakened immune systems such as those living with HIV/AIDS. In many patients, the disease can be effectively controlled and even cured with targeted antiviral treatment.

In Myanmar, it is estimated that about 1.43 million people are infected with hepatitis C (2.7% of the population). However, among key populations at high risk of infection, such as people who inject drugs (PWID), the rates of infection increase to 47.7%. They climb even more dramatically among high risk populations in urban centers like Yangon, where recorded prevalence rates exceed 84%. There is a widespread lack of awareness and understanding of hepatitis C among the general population in Myanmar, and very limited access to affordable testing and treatment for those with hepatitis C.

In the 16-month first phase, CPI will focus on high risk populations in Yangon and Mandalay. We will work to provide free treatment and monitoring to 800 patients with hepatitis C (rising to 3,200 in the second phase), including those with dual infections of HIV. We will develop and disseminate education and information materials to raise awareness of hepatitis C, symptoms, prevention, and testing and treatment pathways among high risk populations.

We will work with the Myanmar Ministry of Health and Sports (MOHS) and the National Hepatitis Control Program (NHCP) to develop specific treatment protocols for hepatitis C, establish laboratory capacity for low-cost Hepatitis C testing and monitoring, and the development of a database for hepatitis C patient records.

We will help to develop the capacity of Myanmar’s health workforce to combat hepatitis C through a continuing medical education program providing key health care workers including township medical officers and general practitioners with up-to-date training and information on hepatitis C diagnosis and treatment.

The project will help to prepare the groundwork for country-wide efforts to combat hepatitis C in the coming years, reducing prevalence rates and offering those with hepatitis C effective treatment and the opportunity to be cured.

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