Image: The Star
Last year, it was reported that nearly half a million Malaysians
could be infected with Hepatitis C and they might not even know it.
So far, we haven't had an effective Hepatitis C treatment and the ones that were available were very expensive.
However, there is good news waiting for infected patients as free treatment will soon be available at government hospitals
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam told The Star
that 2,000 Hepatitis C patients will be treated this year using the drug sofosbuvir that can cure the disease and kill the virus.
He added that this treatment has a cure rate of up to 95 per cent.
The ministry started the treatment course more than two weeks ago and twenty patients have been receiving treatment ever since.
Following this first round of treatment, 23,000 more patients in the ministry's Hepatitis C registry will also be treated in stages.
They are currently looking at more cost-effective testing to conduct mass screening and have more patients treated.
“We respect the need for patents but we are also holding to the principle that affordable medicines should be made available to those who need them,” Dr Subramaniam said.
This disease is a major public health issue, so the government is determined to treat more patients. If left untreated, patients would suffer scarring and liver cancer. It could even spread to other people.
Hepatitis C is caused by a blood-borne virus that infects the liver, which could lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure.
Many people who have Hepatitis C are not aware that they are infected until they experience some form of liver damage, which can take years to happen.
In some cases, people who get Hepatitis C have it for a short period of time and recover quick. But there are also patients who end up developing long term or chronic Hepatitis C.
Our health is the only thing we carry with us for as long as we live, so let's work hard to take care of our bodies, eat healthy, exercise more and start going for regular medical check-ups.