Five months have passed since the Ministry of Health launched the national program to eradicate the hepatitis C virus, with the strategic goal announced by the World Health Organization being to eradicate the virus by 2030. However, “Reveals that not enough has been done on the subject.
The Maccabi HMO reports that since the beginning of the year, 200 new members have been treated for the disease, in addition to the thousands who have been treated over the years. The United Health Insurance Fund has admitted that the lists from the Population Administration have not yet been transferred in full, despite the long time that has elapsed since the announcement of the plan. “We are currently concentrating on locating and treating patients with chronic hepatitis C, or people who are suspected of being ill. The Healthy Population Survey program will be implemented in 2022,” they responded. The data also show that between January and June 2021, the fund treated close to 100 patients who received medication.
The Clalit HMO mapped and prepared lists of patients who had a positive antibody test for hepatitis C. For some, the PCR test came out negative, and therefore they are not defined as active patients. For some, the PCR test turned out to be positive, meaning that they are active patients, and the fund turns to them to offer treatment and follow-up. Some have not yet performed a PCR test, and regarding them indicate at the checkout that they will continue the clarification process. Next, the fund intends to turn to healthy patients for screening tests.
Since the beginning of 2020, about 41,000 survey tests have been performed at the National Health Insurance Fund – of which 404 patients have been verified, including 152 who have already started drug treatment. The fund explains that the lists from the Population Administration on immigrants from the Commonwealth of Independent States who belong to the main risk groups have not yet been received. However, they emphasize that “the plan was implemented when a dedicated care coordinator was appointed for the issue, guidelines were disseminated, and at-risk patients were identified based on the fund’s risk assessment algorithm, which also relates to the country of immigration.”
The Ministry of Health responded: “The ministry takes supervisory measures with the funds, in parallel with the strategy enshrined in the CEO’s circular to establish a national registrar, which will allow accurate and careful monitoring of the status of the clarification and treatment of each insured in the risk group. Regarding the question of the transfer of information – this is done in accordance with the strict procedures of the Committee for the Delivery of Information. “Unfortunately, only one fund submitted the request, although the ministry initiated talks with all the funds.”
Regarding Maariv’s request for information on the number of patients who began treatment, the Ministry of Health says: “It would not be right operatively to monitor the treatment in the middle of the year. However, the ministry monitors this annually, in parallel with the planned national registrar.”
Prof. Ziv Ben-Ari, director of the Center for Liver Diseases at Sheba Medical Center, explains: “Chronic hepatitis C infection can progress in some carriers of significant liver disease, liver failure, need for liver transplantation and even primary liver cancer. HMOs now have to start. “Immediately locate the carriers in the risk groups known to them.”
Julio Borman, CEO of the Arrow Association, which deals with the issue, adds: “Although five months have passed, the actual implementation of the program has not yet begun, due to the cumbersome government bureaucracy in the country, which is delaying its implementation. “We expect that in the days of a global epidemic it will be applied quickly, because people may die from the liver complications caused by the virus, and especially in combination with the risk of contracting coronary heart disease.”