Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Hepatitis C education crucial to cut high infection rate in Middle East and North Africa

Experts say nine million people in the Middle East and North Africa are infected with hepatitis C, a potentially deadly virus.

DUBAI // The Middle East and North Africa region has one of the highest rates of hepatitis C in the world, experts have revealed.

About nine million people in the region are believed to be infected with the potentially lethal virus, which can lead to cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer.

In the UAE alone, about 14 in every 100,000 people will become infected at some point in their lives.

The figures were revealed during a conference in Dubai that brought together more than 200 doctors to discuss the virus, the best ways to manage it and the medical breakthroughs that may help to reduce its growing prevalence.

According to the World Health Organisation, about 150 million people globally are chronically infected with hepatitis C, and more than 350,000 people die from related liver diseases each year.

“Despite the progress and medical breakthroughs that have taken place over the last decade, hepatitis C transmission rates in the Mena region are still among the highest in the world,” said Ramsey Morad from the healthcare company MSD, which organised the conference.

“Education is crucial if we are truly to start addressing this epidemic.”

In the UAE, the virus is most prevalent in Abu Dhabi, according to MSD, and least common in Ajman.

Mazen Altaruti, the managing director of MSD Gulf, described the virus, which is mainly transmitted through blood-to-blood contact, as a “silent killer” as most patients show no symptoms until it has caused irreversible liver damage.

jbell@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 An Egyptian Orthodox Christian priest give communion during the Palm Sunday service inCairo, Egypt. Mohamed El-Shahed / AFP

Region in focus - April 18, 2014

The best images of the last seven days from around the Gulf and across the Middle East.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

Video: Local reactions to a national fishing ban

A federal fishing ban has been imposed by the UAE federal government, but local authorities are taking diiferent approaches to implementing the ban. Two fishermen tell two very different sides of the story. Produced by Paul O'Driscoll

 Hamburg players leave the field after the match against Borussia Moenchengladbach on March 30, 2014. AFP

Hamburg the dinosaur’s time may be up in Bundesliga

Ever-present for 51 years in the German top-flight, Hamburg face the prospect of relegation, writes Ian Hawkey.

 The new Bentley GT Speed convertible on display at a press event of the New York International Auto Show. Jason Szenes / EPA

In pictures: Hot cars at New York International Auto Show

With more than 1 million visitors annually, the New York International Auto Show is one of the most important shows for the US car industry. Here are some of the vehicles to be shown in this year’s edition.

 The cast of Fast & Furious 7, including Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel, centre, on set at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Fast & Furious 7 filming in full swing at Emirates Palace

Filming for Fast & Furious 7 has started and we have the first photos of the cast and crew on set at Emirates Palace hotel this morning. Visitors staying at Emirates Palace say they have been kept away from certain areas in the grounds.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National