Media Release

Dubai, 19.12.2012

Launch of the National Hepatitis C Awareness Campaign in the UAE

19th December 2012, Roche together with the Emirates Gastroenterology and Hepatology Society (EGHS) - Emirates Medical Association announced a National Hepatitis C Awareness Campaign in the UAE.

The campaign is a well-designed program of awareness, education and services provided to the public based on options for care and treatment, accelerating prevention and control of viral hepatitis in the region, taking the UAE one step closer tackling Hepatitis C issues its faced with.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 3–4 million people being infected with the Hepatitis C every year, with approximately 180 million chronically infected, resulting in more than 350,000 people dying annually from Hepatitis C-related liver diseases.

Dr. Maryam Alkatry, President of Emirates Gastroenterology & Hepatology Society - Emirates Medical Association, comments at the launch: “This National campaign is both a very important and significant step forward for Hepatitis C prevention and management regionally. Raising awareness for the disease is vital as acute infection is so often missed, due to the majority of those infected having no symptoms, thus no reason for concern, initially. This two month public awareness campaign highlights the importance of screening, disease management, treatment options and the steps that can be taken to increase patient’s adherence to improve their treatment outcomes. We are glad to be in a position to offer this public service to 1000’s of people across the UAE.

 “We believe anyone who wishes to know or is concerned about Hepatitis C should be offered the opportunity for free testing, counseling and appropriate follow-up. The campaign aims to provide dedicated screening centers to accommodate up to 4000 walk-in visitors thought-out the two month period, which are located at various shopping malls and social clubs in the Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Al Ain and Sharjah,” adds Dr. Maryam Alkatry.

These campaign elements offer education to the public about how the virus is commonly transmitted. Publics will also be able to learn about the diagnosis processes, and just how screening, early diagnosis and treatment can potentially prevent health problems, which may result from infection and how to prevent transmission to family members and other close contacts.

Results of the Campaign

The Campaign results say Hepatitis C has a prevalence of 1.4% in UAE. The campaign which started in December 2012 and continued till mid-May 2013, aimed at creating awareness on the disease through the launch of a toll free number 8004372 and website Around 150,000 sms were sent in English, Arabic and Urdu. Also 50,000 brochures were distributed in English and Arabic, along with free screening activities in malls and social clubs. The campaign was successful in detecting 178 positive cases out of 6022 screened patients.