Walking into school, you don’t expect to come face-to-face with your biology homework, but because Egypt cares about the health of its citizens, NISians participated in the HCV eradication protocol. The First Settlement campus was one among many stops in the Cairo district for the #StopHCV campaign which is circulating the country.
The Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) is a liver disease that is primarily spread via unclean blood transfusions, infected needles, and contaminated shaving blades.
Unfortunately, its symptoms often don’t present themselves until the disease becomes chronic. Thereafter, it can lead to liver cancer [if left ignored]. In severe cases, its main symptoms include fever, abdominal and stomach problems, and yellowing of the skin and eyes -the last symptom is called jaundice.
In early detection, HCV is curable. The disease is diagnosed after two steps. First, a serology to see if the body made anti-HCV antibodies in response to an infection and then a PCR, or a polymerase chain reaction test, which tests for the presence of HCV.
Thanks to the #StopHCV campaign, which falls under the larger presidential campaign called 100 Million Seha, if the serology turns out positive, the patient is immediately sent to have a PCR, before beginning treatment. In Egypt, treatment includes the Egyptian-made, FDA approved Elbasvir/grazoprevir, better known by its trade-name, Zepatier. The treatment blocks the virus from multiplying until the immune system can clear its effects.
Furthermore, the campaign tests for diabetes, blood pressure, and takes the weight and height of every person; accordingly any medical problems can be addressed and handled.
According to the physician representing the campaign, “it’s a campaign that started in December as a national campaign to treat Virus C and non-communicable diseases, like diabetes and high blood pressure. Its goal is to eradicate the virus.” Any citizen with his national ID number, and is over 18, has the right to be screened for the virus for free along with diabetes and blood pressure. If the virus is present, they are given the PCR for free. During the campaign, the treatment is free.
These campaign workers put in many long hours touring the country to spread better health and awareness. “So we’re in Cairo right now, and Cairo is the second phase, while Giza is the third phase… Cairo, since the beginning of December, was under really tough pressure in all the centers, health offices, hospitals, etc… And then we started, from the beginning of January, with the world calming down a bit…”
The campaign is facilitating the process and is allowing everyone to get tested. People have been receptive to the campaign and have gone out of their way to get tested. The campaign representative explained that the number of people to have the number were not as expected; the numbers were much less. Although previous statistics showed high numbers of virus carriers, many have been treated.
Although many would assume that Egypt is one of the countries with the highest number of people with HCV, that is not correct, explained the campaign representative. Also, according to Egypt Today, “4.5 percent of examined Egyptians tested positive for Hepatitis C.”
NIS management encouraged everyone to get tested during the campaign’s two-day visit on campus; and we at NIS Today advise everyone who hasn’t gotten tested already to do so.