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TWN Info Service on Intellectual Property Issues (Feb20/03)
13 February 2020
Third World Network

Dear friends and colleagues,

We are pleased to share with you a recent article titled "Find the Missing Millions: Malaysia’s experience with nationwide hepatitis C screening campaign in the general population" published in the Journal of Viral Hepatitis, 2020; 00: 1-6 (29 January 2020).

There was considerable global attention when Malaysia became the first country to issue a Government Use compulsory license to import generic sofosbuvir in September 2017 to treat Hepatitis C (HCV).  This enabled the Ministry of Health to start the roll out of treatment in March 2018, using generic sofosbuvir and daclatasvir (which is not patented in Malaysia). The two medicines cost about USD 300 per person for 12 weeks. The next challenge was to conduct nationwide screening and decentralise the treatment.

With the support of international non-for-profit organizations, Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) and Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), the Ministry launched a one-week nationwide hepatitis C screening campaign in conjunction with the World Hepatitis Day on 28 July 2019 . For the first time, the rapid diagnostic test (RDT) for HCV screening was introduced in public health institutions. In addition to serving as a model to educate the general population about the disease, this campaign demonstrates the feasibility of decentralizing HCV screening, particularly by promoting the use of RDT, and linking the HCV-infected patients to care in Malaysia.

Below is the abstract of the article on Malaysia's experience.

With best wishes,

Third World Network

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Abstract

Approximately 2.5% of the Malaysian population is currently living with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Yet, the public awareness of the disease is limited and underscreening remains a major challenge. With the support of international non-for-profit organizations, the Ministry of Health in Malaysia recently launched a one-week nationwide hepatitis C screening campaign in conjunction with the World Hepatitis Day. For the first time, the rapid diagnostic test (RDT) for HCV screening was introduced in public health institutions. This campaign involved 49 hospitals and 38 health clinics across the country, targeting the adult general population with unknown HCV infection status. Of the 11 382 participants undergoing the RDT, 1.9% were found to be positive for hepatitis C antibody (anti-HCV) and were referred to on-site medical departments or nearby hospitals for confirmatory testing and treatment. Men, the Malay ethnic group, intranasal and injection drug users and ex-prisoners were shown to have higher odds of being positive for anti-HCV. In addition to serving as a model to educate the general population about the disease, this campaign demonstrates the feasibility of decentralizing HCV screening, particularly by promoting the use of RDT, and linking the HCV-infected patients to care in Malaysia.

 


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