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DUBAI The Dubai Health Auth-ority (DHA) has announced the inclusion of free screening and treatment for Hepatitis C under the basic benefit plan of the Dubai mandatory health insurance scheme.

Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the Hepatitis C virus (HVC). According to WHO, approximately 399,000 people die each year from Hepatitis C, mostly from cirrhosis and liver cancer. Often, these diseases are diagnosed late. Prevalence of the disease in Dubai is 0.23 per cent of the population.

Humaid Al Qutami, director-general of DHA, said, “Ninety-eight per cent of the population in Dubai has the mandatory health insurance scheme and thus focusing on preventive medicine through this scheme ensures wide coverage and directly benefits the community.

“The programme will help those with limited coverage, it will lead to early diagnosis and reduce complications.”

Although there is no vaccine for Hepatitis C, antiviral medicines can cure more than 95 per cent of patients, thereby reducing the risk of death from liver cancer and cirrhosis, provided the diseases are detected early.