Recently Dubai Health Authority (DHA) announced the inclusion of free screening and treatment for Hepatitis C under the basic benefit plan of the Dubai Mandatory Health Insurance Scheme.
Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the Hepatitis C virus (HVC). According to WHO reports:
- Hepatitis C virus can cause both acute and chronic Hepatitis. It can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks t a serious, lifelong illness.
- As it is a bloood borne virus and the most common modes of infection are through exposure to small quantities of blood the disease can spread through injection drug use, unsafe injection practices, unsafe health care, and the transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products.
- It is estimated that 71 million people have chronic Hepatitis C infection & a large number of those who are chronically infected will develop cirrhosis or liver cancer.
- More than 399,000 people die each year from hepatitis C, mostly from Cirrhosis and Hepatocellular Carcinoma (A type of liver cancer).
- Antiviral medicines are used to combat the disease and more than 95% of persons with Hepatitis C infection are cured. This reduces the risk of death from Liver Cancer and Cirrhosis, but access to diagnosis and treatment is low.
- There is currently no vaccine for Hepatitis C; however, research in this area is ongoing.
At present Hepatitis C has affected approximately 0.23 percent of the population in Dubai. Mandatory health insurance is there for ninety-eight percent of the population in Dubai. The Dubai Government is focusing on preventive medicine and through the free Hepatitis C screening and treatment in Dubai Mandatory Health Insurance Scheme it will ensure wide coverage and direct benefit to the community.
The scheme will especially aid those with limited coverage, it will lead to early diagnosis and reduce complications and provide financial and emotional support to patients with Hepatitis C. With the launch of the Basmah initiative in 2017, if a patient is detected with Hepatitis C, the DHA Patient Tracking and Follow-Up Centre is automatically notified & they ensure that the complete treatment process for the patient is smooth and streamlined.
This initiative of the DHA is marked through the combined efforts of the Authority, pharmaceutical companies and insurance providers with an aim to focus on preventive community medicine
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