18,000 persons are living with Hepatitis C in Belgium

18,000 persons are living with Hepatitis C in Belgium
© Belga

Belgium is far from its target of eradicating the Hepatitis C Virus by 2030, a coalition of Belgian experts warned on Friday.

To attain this goal, 1,200 patients need to be treated each year, the VHC Coalition noted.

EU Member States, including Belgium, made a commitment at the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2016 to eradicate the disease by 2030. Four years on, the results have been insufficient, according to the VHC Coalition.

“Belgium is “at the back of the pack” and “without policy change, the goal will not even be attained in 2050,” the VHC Coalition warned.

According to the Coalition’s calculations, 18,000 persons are living with Hepatitis C in Belgium and 300 patients die from the viral condition each year.

“Since the bearers of the virus sometimes remain asymptomatic for a long time, they often infect people around them through blood contact,” said Dr. Jean-Pierre Mulkay, the Coalition’s spokesman. “It’s precisely this chain of infection that we need to break.”

“We also have a treatment that offers patients a recovery chance of over 95%,” added Mulkay, who is also a gastro-enterologist at the Saint Pierre Medical Hospital.

The experts are calling for a more coordinated approach to get Belgium’s anti-Hepatitis-C effort on track. “Because of the latent nature of Hepatitis C and the fact that it affects the most fragile groups, good follow-up is of crucial importance,” Dr. Mulkay said. “A global, multi-disciplinary strategy is required.”

The Coalition is organising a roundtable on Hepatitis C on Friday, following which, it says, it will submit its recommendations to political decision-makers.

The Brussels Times

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