Dr Mohamed Alboraie is a NOhep Medical Visionary and Executive Director of the Egyptian Presidential Initiative for the treatment of one million hepatitis C patients in Africa.
I was driven to work in the field of viral hepatitis by the extremely large number of people I see dying from complications of viral hepatitis every day. I have been working as a member of the executive office of Egypt’s National Committee for Control of Viral Hepatitis (NCCVH) for the past two years, through which I gained a lot of experience in viral hepatitis elimination on a national scale.
Egypt used to have the highest prevalence of hepatitis C globally. Today, it is considered a world leader for hepatitis C elimination.
We have taken these great steps towards hepatitis C elimination through applying the world’s largest ever hepatitis C screening campaign. When this programme was established, I was privileged to be nominated as the Executive director of the Egyptian Presidential Initiative for the treatment of 1 million African Hepatitis C patients. The lessons learned from this national experience encouraged Egypt to expand the programme to involve other African countries.
Under this programme, the Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population (MOHP) will provide all means of support from providing testing kits, lab equipment, treatment, training, and support in order to meet the needs required by the African countries. The program will include 14 African countries in the first phase.
Three countries – Chad, Eritrea and South Sudan – have already been visited over the past months. More than 30,000 people were screened for hepatitis C and more than 600 hundred patients were treated. Physicians were trained on how to apply the simplified approach of screening for hepatitis C using rapid diagnostic tests and how to apply the simplified protocol for hepatitis C treatment. Laboratory technicians were also trained on methods of nucleic acid testing to confirm diagnosis of positive cases detected by hepatitis C screening rapid tests. Building capacity of medical professionals will improve and accelerate diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis patients, and this will prevent long-term complications and decrease health care costs in countries with large hepatitis burdens.
I am very proud of the progress Egypt has made towards hepatitis C elimination, but we still have a way to go and much remains to be done on a global scale. The biggest obstacle to eliminating viral hepatitis in my opinion is to discover new cases; once patients are diagnosed, treatment can be managed in different ways, but this means nothing if patients remain unaware of their status. For me, NOhep is the friendliest and most effective initiative for raising awareness about viral hepatitis and its complications, and I am hopeful that it will help us overcome low awareness and increase diagnosis rates to eliminate this disease.
Being a NOhep Medical Visionary means to me that I’m one of the soldiers in the battle against viral hepatitis and I will continue fighting until we achieve global elimination. I encourage other medical professionals to join the programme; we all have a part to play and should participate actively in awareness campaigns and promote NOhep activities in our communities.
If you are interested in finding out more about how to apply the simplified approach for screening and treatment of hepatitis C, please contact Dr Alboraie on Twitter at @alboraie