Roche applauds efforts of charities in the United Arab Emira
Roche recently partnered with the Emirates Gastroenterology Society to bring together over 20 charities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The event called Charity Thanking Day, the third of its kind, was organized to say a big thank you to the organizations that had worked tirelessly in creating awareness about hepatitis C.
“These efforts are very important in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as they bring awareness about this disease that can even cause death. Also, they support patients who are financially disadvantaged with no access to treatment. Just last year, over 2220 patients benefitted from the various programs organized by these charities,” points out Odeta Rimkeviciute, Communications Director of Roche Middle East. More than 100 delegates representing 20 NGOs such as the Red Crescent, Zakat Fund, Dar Al Ber Society, Sharjah Charity International among others, attended the event held in Dubai.
“Roche is a leader in the field of hepatitis C. We have extensive experience of working with charities, NGOs and medical societies in the UAE. In partnership with these organizations and Emirates Gastroenterology Society, Roche has developed the Patient Accelerate Program which helps hepatitis C patients get better access to treatment. A toll-free number has been introduced to guide patients who seek help,” she adds.
In the United Arab Emirates about 50 percent of eligible patients do not have access to hepatitis C treatment. Charity organizations play an important role in the UAE by covering treatment costs for those without access. However, funds are limited and poor administrative processes within the charity organizations limit effectiveness.
Also, the diagnosis rate in the country is only 2.5 percent, and public awareness activities are not a priority for the health authorities in this area. Hepatitis C prevalence in the country has gone up to 1.4 percent. Therefore, raising awareness especially in areas where the disease is endemic is of vital importance.
“Between 350,000 and 500,000 patients worldwide die each year from hepatitis C related liver disease. This can be attributed to low disease awareness which deters detection and leads to infection transfer. The problem is compounded due to inaccessibility of proper treatment and financial limitations of patients,” explains Dr Mariam Al Khatery, President of Emirates Gastroenterology Society. “In the UAE, charities and NGOs play a major role in the management of these issues and in helping patients. Charity Thanking Day is our continuous effort to applaud the great work done by these institutions.
A documentary highlighting the work done by several of these charities was unveiled during the event. Each of these institutions was also individually acknowledged with commemorative trophies.
Difficult to spot
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) nearly 180 million people worldwide have hepatitis C of whom about 80 percent live symptom-free for years without even knowing that they are infected. It is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus. The virus can cause both acute and chronic infections ranging in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong ailment. The infection usually does not produce any signs or symptoms until at a late stage. These can range from fever, fatigue, nausea, muscle and joint pain, and jaundice. Late stage complications can include the scarring of liver tissue, liver cancer and liver failure. The virus can be detected by a blood test and the extent of damage to the liver can be determined by testing samples of liver tissue.