Challenges remain in hepatitis C diagnosis, treatment: workshop hinh anh 1Director of the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases Nguyen Van Kinh speaks at the workshop in Hanoi on September 24 (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – A workshop held in Hanoi on September 24 pointed out that there remain numerous challenges in the diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis C in Vietnam.

Hepatitis C is one of the leading causes of cirrhosis and liver cancer in the country, which has recorded high incidences of hepatitis B and C.

Director of the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases Prof. Dr. Nguyen Van Kinh said there haven’t been any vaccines against hepatitis C, but this disease can be treated thanks to new drugs that directly attack the virus.

However, the access to these drugs is still limited due to high treatment costs, the drugs not covered by health insurance, and a lack of diagnosis and treatment services.

These are major challenges to the support for and treatment of hepatitis C patients, Kinh noted.

It is estimated that Vietnam has nearly 8 million people infected with hepatitis B and 1 million others contracted hepatitis C, ranking third in the world and second in Asia in terms of hepatitis incidence.

Data released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) show that in 2017, among the nearly 1 million people infected with hepatitis C, only more than 80,000 were diagnosed, nearly 35,000 had conditions to receive treatment, and 4,500 were treated.

Meanwhile, public awareness of hepatitis remains low. As a result, only when the diseases become serious and develop into cirrhosis or liver cancer do they come to hospitals to have check-ups.

Therefore, people are recommended to have regular health check-ups, take screening for hepatitis B and C, and avoid drinking alcohol to prevent hepatitis infection.

To support Vietnam to enhance hepatitis diagnosis and treatment, the Clinton Health Access Initiative has engaged the country in its Quick-Start programme, which has also involved five other nations. 

Under this programme, 2,018 hepatitis C patients have received treatment, and 98 percent of those with treatment results recorded have recovered./.