Egypt, a country known to have one of the highest hepatitis C (HCV) prevalences in the world, has started a national campaign to eradicate HCV from all corners of the world. If successful, the initiative would not only provide HCV-infected individuals from all around the world with the opportunity to receive cheap, safe treatment, but it would also grant Egypt the opportunity to boost tourism in four of the country’s tourism capitals: Cairo, Sharm El Sheikh, Luxor, and Aswan.
According to an article
published in the International Journal of General Medicine
on December 20, 2016, one pill of Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) can cost $1,000 in the United States, with a full 12-week treatment regimen totaling in the tens of thousands of dollars. On the other hand, as a result of a government-negotiated deal between Egypt and Gilead Sciences, the country saw a drastic drop in treatment costs, with a month-long supply of sofosbuvir costing as little as $300 in Egypt. That said, it is no surprise that in the last 12 months, approximately one million infected individuals in Egypt have been cured of HCV.
Moreover, a new Egyptian initiative, dubbed Tour n’ Cure
, intends to completely eradicate HCV globally by providing a no-wait treatment program at a reduced cost. The program works in the following manner: patients participating in the treatment program submit a full medical history, including polymerase chain reaction (PCR) HCV ribonucleic acid (RNA) quantitative tests, complete blood count, and more. Next, they choose a destination and a preferred time to fly to Egypt for a 1-week trip. During their stay, they are given the opportunity to receive a full exam, followed by the first course of treatment for the infection. In addition, patients get the chance to tour what the initiative says is, “the land that gave birth to the first great civilization,” after treatment initiation. At this point, patients “should start to feel the medicine take effect.”
After the week-long trip, patients return home with the rest of the treatment regimen (which can range anywhere between 3 and 6 months, depending on the plan). The program continues after the patient returns home, where they are required to send complete blood work to the corresponding treatment facility after 1 month of initial treatment and another 3 months after receiving the final treatment dosage, to ensure “that the virus has been completely eradicated” from their bodies.
Through its official website and social media pages (including ones on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram), Tour n’ Cure calls on supporters to use the hashtag #StopTheWait, promising that for every 1,000 mentions, one patient will receive free treatment; so far, there have been over 2,000 mentions. In addition, soccer star, Lionel Messi, is the celebrity ambassador for the Tour n’ Cure initiative, and visited Egypt to campaign for “A World Free of Hepatitis C.”
Tour n’ Cure, is jointly funded by the LeoMessi Foundation, Prime Pharma, and Pharco, and aims to bring us one step closer to eliminating HCV from the world. According to the website, the Tour n’ Cure initiative has already helped many individuals in Europe and Asia. These efforts are in alignment with the World Health Organization's initiative
to eliminate hepatitis B and C from around the world by 2030. According to the advocacy brief, the goal in Egypt is to treat 4.5 million Egyptians from HCV infection by 2030.
Feature Image Source: Tour n' Cure
To stay informed on the latest in infectious disease news and developments, please sign up for our weekly newsletter.