Davit Sergeenko, Minister of Health, Labour and Social Affairs of Georgia, says that the treatment of Hepatitis C will continue in Georgia until all those who suffer are treated and the virus has been eliminated from the country. “Harvon,” the latest drug to cure Hepatitis C with a “100% cure rate” has just arrived to Georgia. Tamta Tvalavadze visited the storage facility and met participants of this program who shared their experiences with her.
In April 2015, Georgia launched a program for people infected with the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) and suffering from severe liver disease.
The course of the treatment, which can cost approximately $80,000-$100 000, is now free for patients who become part of this trial. At the moment, there 6,571 patients registered who are diagnosed with Hepatitis C in the 3rd or 4th stage.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says that Georgia is the third country with the highest rate of patients with hepatitis C, after Egypt and Mongolia.
Many Georgians who suffer from this disease cannot afford the treatment. The American biopharmaceutical company, Gilead, is using Georgia as a test case for Hepatitis C elimination. The free drugs course consists of Interferon, Ribavirin, Sovaldi( Sofosbuvir) and Harvon, which is the latest medicine, a combination of the drugs Sofosbuvir and Ledipasvir, and boasts the highest efficiency. Yesterday, Harvon came to Georgia and presented to the public.
According to the latest plan, the course of treatment and selection of medicine depends on each patient’s individual case.
Why did Gilead choose Georgia? Which factors were decisive? How many patients are involved in the program? How many have positive results? These numbers are represented on these infographics.
In February, Public Defender Ucha Nanuashvili, asked the Prime Minister if patients from the occupied territories of Georgia who have the correct documents could be included in the program.
To date, 45 patients from the conflict region have contacted the Ministry of Health to take part in the program. So far, 35 have been accepted and 15 already have positive results. The main demand from the Ministry of Health is that they must have a Georgia Identification Card.
Besides the cure, prevention is a crucial part of the program.
Eka Adamia from Ministry of Health outlined the state’s approaches towards prevention and monitoring processes in high risk places: dental clinics, beauty and tattoo salons.
Due to the high cost of the drugs, there are special standards for storage and distribution.
The Neo Lab clinic is one of the program members. Its employees show us the rules which are obligatory to follow for every clinic involved:
Irina Natroshvili, 48, is currently taking treatment. She tries to follow all the rules and recommendations given by the doctors, and for now the process is working.
She describes the main challenges of struggling with Hepatitis C disease
Giorgi Mchedlishivi has 12 years experience in managing his Hepatitis C. He was a participant in the first phase of the program. According to his latest exam, he has defeated the disease.
He shares his personal story and experience in managing this disease.