Pilot project for testing and treatment of Hepatitis C starts in Ukraine


In the next three years over eight thousand Ukrainians will be able to take a test for the Hepatitis C and HIV. Four thousand patients will be able to get innovative medicines Sofosbuvir and Ledispavir. That’s the aim of the first pilot project for testing and treatment of the Hepatitis C in Ukraine. It was stated by representatives of the Healthcare Ministry and of international organizations at a press-briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

The first ones to become part of the project are the 800 patients with most serious cases – with double or triple pathology – a combination of HIV, Hepatitis and tuberculosis. “We will use the project results over the first months to correct the possibility of access to treatment for a wide circle of patients with Hepatitides,” said Natalia Nizova, director of the Public Health Center within the Healthcare Ministry of Ukraine. Patients who would like to get the treatment can turn to the Public Health Center for more information.

“The project will treat four thousand patients and, even more importantly, it will inform everyone about what the costs might be and how to scale it up, so that this treatment might become available and be set up across the country. I’d like to commend the efforts of EQUIP, YouLead and the government of Ukraine in taking this important step to bring lifesaving treatment closer to and more accessible for those who need it,” said Karen Robblee, acting Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy in Ukraine. “I also want to commend the acting Minister of Health Suprun and Prime Minister Groysman for continuing to push for health reform. Today Ukrainians are closer than ever to the access to modern healthcare, and the US remains firmly committed to continuing to help Ukraine modernize and improve its health system”.

As of June 2017, 1,770 Ukrainians were getting highly efficient treatment from the Hepatitis C virus as part of the international assistance programs. However, according to the data by the World Health Organization (WHO) the actual number of those infected with the Hepatitis C in Ukraine may reach up to five per cent of the population – over two million persons. “Given the above-mentioned numbers of people received HCV treatment, access to highly effective HCV treatment remains limited. […] We, at EQUIP, believe that we live in a wholly inter-reliant world, which simply means we cannot escape each other. We are seeing the international commitment, the political will and the willingness of partners in the Ukraine to join hands to walk this road together. Let’s join hands today to take joined responsibility to show our humanity, implement our technical expertise and recommit the journey to see a Hepatitis free generation in our lifetime,” said Dr. Thembi Xulu, EQUIP Program Manager.

“Today we can be optimistic for the first time about the actual perspective to overcome the challenges posed by the Hepatitis. […] We work together with our partners through the EQUIP project to make the transition from the pilot model to the stable services – for which the state is responsible, as quick as possible. By 2020 we aim to have achieved the situation when, same as in the case with the HIV infection, each patient who has learnt about his/her status, will not remain without the treatment,” Nizova emphasized. She noted that thanks to the cooperation with international partners it became possible to get the medicines registered as well as procure them at the cost that is several times lower than last year.

Oleksiy Bobryk, Technical Advisor on HIV, Tuberculosis and Viral Hepatitis at the WHO Country Office in Ukraine reminded of the joint mission by the WHO and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that took place at the initiative of the Healthcare Ministry of Ukraine in June 2017. The mission evaluated the state of the system set to counter hepatitides viruses in Ukraine. “Based on the mission results a report will be prepared by the end of summer – beginning of September, based on which the country will be able to elaborate the action plan to eliminate the hepatitides viruses. The WHO promises to further provide the technical assistance. We hope that Ukraine will become an example for other states,” the WHO technical advisor said.

The project is being implemented by the U.S. Agency for International Development, EQUIP consortium, the Public Health Center, the Healthcare Ministry of Ukraine in cooperation with the charitable foundation “Alliance for Public Health”. “We are very grateful to our international partners for help, we hope for the fruitful cooperation to be able to provide the patients with up-to-date treatment, the way it is supposed to be in the XXI century,” said Oleksandr Linchevsky, Deputy Healthcare Minister of Ukraine.