Dubai: The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) announced on Monday 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 due to late diagnosis of the disease.

Currently, the disease affects about 0.23 per cent of the population in Dubai . 

71m people are estimated to be infected with chronic hepatitis C globally

Humaid Al Qutami, Director-General of the DHA, said that in line with the vision of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and in line with the UAE Vision 2021 Plan, DHA aims to provide the highest quality of health services to everyone living in Dubai.

Al Qutami 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 especially help those with limited coverage; it will lead to early diagnosis and reduce complications and provide financial and emotional support to patients with Hepatitis C.”

He added that in December 2017, Dubai became the first government body in the world to cover screening and treatment of three types of the most curable cancers.

Al Qutami said, “Providing the whole community with such wide-scale preventive screening mechanisms has been possible because of the support of our partners, both government and private.”

Ahmed Al Nuaimi, CEO of Joint Corporate Support Services said, “This is yet another milestone in terms of health insurance coverage after we launched the Basmah initiative in 2017. Under this initiative, if a patient is detected with Hepatitis C, the DHA Patient Tracking and Follow-Up Centre is automatically notified. They ensure that the complete treatment process for the patient is smooth and streamlined.”

In 2017, the funding department added screening services for diabetes, heart disease, new born and developmental screening as part of the mandatory health insurance cover with an aim to provide holistic health screening services under the insurance umbrella. 

About Hepatitis C

• Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the Hepatitis C virus, which can cause both acute and chronic hepatitis, ranging in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness.

• The Hepatitis C virus is a blood-borne virus and the most common modes of infection are through exposure to small quantities of blood. This may happen through injection drug use, unsafe injection practices, unsafe health care, and the transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products.

• Globally, an estimated 71 million people have chronic Hepatitis C infection.

• A significant number of those who are chronically infected will develop cirrhosis or liver cancer.

• Approximately 399,000 people die each year from Hepatitis C, mostly from cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (type of liver cancer).

• Antiviral medicines can cure more than 95 per cent of persons with Hepatitis C infection, thereby reducing the risk of death from liver cancer and cirrhosis, but access to diagnosis and treatment is low.

• There is currently no vaccine for Hepatitis C; however, research in this area is ongoing.

Source: World Health Organisation