August 18, 2011
West African governments should take high rates of hepatitis B and C more seriously and make treatment more affordable, experts said at a recent international hepatitis conference in Dakar, Senegal.
"The idea is to push governments, who have committed themselves, to make hepatitis a priority so that treatment will be accessible to all," said Aminata Sall Diallo, coordinator of Senegal's national hepatitis program. "The cost is beyond our resources. It requires a million CFA francs [about US $2,250] for a month's treatment; our grants are not sufficient."
Nearly one in five Malians have hepatitis B, said Diéynaba Samaké, president of SOS Hépatites Mali.
"Treatment for hepatitis B [in Mali] remains relatively expensive," Samaké said." At 600,000 CFA [about US $1,348] per month, the cost of treatment is equivalent to several times the monthly salary of an average Malian. There is not, at this stage, any framework for specialized care for hepatitis B, but in the past three years, the government has supported prevention, testing, and treatment of hepatitis B and C."
In Cameroon, prevalence of hepatitis B and C is 10 percent and 12 percent, respectively, said Njoya Oudou, president of the Scientific Council of Cameroonians Against Viral Hepatitis.
"Our network operates with its own resources to educate people, organize refresher courses for doctors, run campaigns, and negotiate with pharmaceutical firms," Oudou said. "For the moment, we have only moral support from the government."