Health insurance fund to cover several Hepatitis C drugs hinh anh 1A health worker collects a blood sample for hepatitis C test (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) -
Several new-generation drugs for hepatitis C treatment will be covered by the health insurance fund as part of a recently-released circular by the Ministry of Health.  

After consulting with experts and leading hospitals, the health and insurance sector agreed to bring new drugs for hepatitis C treatment into the list of medicine covered by health insurance fund, said Prof. Nguyen Van Kinh, Director of the National Hospital of Tropical Diseases.

Kinh said that the new medications help shorten treatment duration because they are effective and have fewer side effects.

The inclusion of new drugs to treat hepatitis C on the list covered by health insurance opens more opportunities for Vietnamese patients to access advanced treatments, he said.

Nguyen Trong Khoa, Deputy Director of the Health Ministry’s Preventive Medicine Department, said Vietnam ranks 4th in the world in terms of mortality from liver cancer. The country has about one million people infected with hepatitis C virus and 10 million infected with hepatitis B, so the community’s need for treatment services is increasing day by day, he said.

The practice is an important milestone to achieve the goal to eliminate hepatitis by 2030 and reduce the burden of liver diseases in Vietnam, said Khoa, adding that hepatitis C and hepatitis B are the main causes of liver diseases in Vietnam.

Antiviral medicines can cure more than 95 percent of people with hepatitis C, thereby reducing the risk of death from liver cancer and cirrhosis, but access to diagnosis and treatment is low, according to Khoa.

Khoa said the Health Ministry also worked with foreign pharmaceutical companies to franchise drug production and boost production in Vietnam at a cheaper price, creating favourable conditions for patients to access treatments for liver diseases.

Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by hepatitis C virus, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

According to WHO, some 71 million people have chronic hepatitis C infections globally whereas about 399,000 people die each year from hepatitis C, mostly from cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma.-VNA