Hepatitis C is a severe global public health problem; around 71 million people worldwide live with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) but most disease burden can be found in low and middle income countries. In Egypt, the country with the highest HCV burden,have chronic HCV infection.more thanThe high rate of hepatitis C (HCV) in both countries stems fromsuch as misusing or sharing intravenous injection needles, often without being aware of it.

High HCV infection rates have led to a high mortality from chronic liver disease, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common type of liver cancer. With limited access to testing and treatments, many patients die within 1-3 years from diagnosis. The World Health Organization (WHO) has defined international targets toward the elimination of hepatitis C by 2030 including the reduction of new viral hepatitis infections by 90%.

In 2018 Egypt embarked on an ambitious screening and treatment program, known as ‘100 million healthier lives’, to detect and eliminate HCV by 2023. In 2019 theits hepatitis elimination program, with an ambitious goal to screen 138 million people by 2030.

To help meet WHO’s goals and eliminate viral hepatitis, Roche is working with governments and other partners to support establishing sustainable elimination programs, as part of its Global Access Program.

In 2018, Roche entered into a partnership with the Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population (MOHP), as well as other agencies, to eliminate hepatitis C by supporting their HCV elimination program and providing robust and dependable HCV diagnostic solutions.

In just six months, almost 50 million people were screened for HCV antibodies from a target population of 62.5 million. Individuals who tested positive for HCV antibodies were confirmed by molecular-based testing (PCR) using Roche’s high-throughput systems in Egyptian health centers, and treated with antiviral therapy. In addition to providing testing equipment, Roche supported personnel and helped train healthcare professionals to ensure the screening program operated correctly and aided in improving disease awareness.

Roche has applied its learnings and experience in helping Egypt successfully eliminate hepatitis C to shape Pakistan’s national hepatitis elimination program by collaborating with private and public stakeholders in the country. Roche’s high-throughput molecular PCR systems in northern, central and southern areas of Pakistan have been playing a key role in strengthening the diagnostics infrastructure across the country. Roche has also helped in the development and delivery of health economic research and awareness campaign materials across various media platforms to support decision making. In 2021, Roche Pakistan continued to support the disease elimination program with targeted activities such as signing Memorandums of Understanding with local NGOs, conducting local clinical studies and further supporting awareness campaigns across the country.

By the end of 2019, the HCV elimination program had a wide success all over Egypt, and the number of HCV tests started to decrease accordingly. As of July 2020, Egypt had screened more than 60 million people for HCV.

With its current success in battling HCV, Egypt is now seen as the success story of how to tackle a high burden, endemic disease through a comprehensive elimination program. They are now focusing on continued healthcare support, awareness, and education both locally and for its fellow African countries.

As of March 2022, over 460,000 people in Pakistan have been screened using the Roche systems through the hepatitis control programs led by the provincial government of Punjab and Sindh. These impressive results demonstrate what can be achieved through a nationwide HCV screening, monitoring, and treatment campaign by a country with extensive domestic and international collaboration.

Besides Egypt and Pakistan, an increasing number of countries are also working towards eliminating HCV, including France, Iceland, Spain, andEgypt’s massive screening campaign and its partnership with Roche is a prime example of how other regions can take on this extraordinary task.

A unique characteristic of our diagnostic tools is that a single instrument can be used to detect multiple diseases. The systems can be utilized for blood screening, as well as to tackle other elimination programs such asHBV,and coronavirus. As a result of the diagnostics infrastructure for disease elimination programs - that have also been used for COVID-19 testing since early 2020 - countries such as Egypt and Pakistan are now benefiting from improved diagnostic solutions for other diseases.

  • As part of the original HCV elimination plan in Egypt, in late 2019, the instruments for national screening started to be reallocated from Egypt Ministry of Health sites to universities.

  • By February 2020, Egypt (and other countries worldwide) faced a COVIDovid-19 PCR testing challenge regarding both availability of tests and credibility of results.

  • In March 2020, Roche launched the SARS-Cov2 PCR testing on the c6800 instrument

  • Because the same Roche instrumentation can be used for COVID-19 PCR testing, the testing centers could immediately switch to perform these tests vital in the fight against COVID-19.

  • COVID-19 PCR testing now is available in 10 MOH sites all over Egypt where they use around 30,000 tests each week.

  • Since March 2020, 1,265,000 COVID-19 PCR tests have been performed using our c6800 instruments.

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