Free Treatment

HFP Hepatitis C Treatment campaign in Temerloh

Hepatitis Free Pahang/Malaysia's campaign is motivated to raise awareness and to provide free Hepatitis screening tests to the public because Hepatitis B has long been treatable and just in the last 3 years, Hepatitis C has become curable. Yet surprisingly large number of Malaysians are still dying unnecessarily from Hepatitis, notably from liver cirrhosis which kill an estimated 1500 people [1] and liver cancers which kill another 1750 people a year in Malaysia [2].

Unfortunately in our healthcare system, much medical treatments available, especially the new and innovative ones, are often unnecessarily costly [3], making them accessible only to the rich and the well connected. HFM/HFP is therefore also committed to assisting people who are found to have Hepatitis through our screening campaign to receive the medical treatments which they will need:

  • HFM/HFP will help eligible patients to secure reimbursement from the relevant payers such as SOCSO (for eligible workers), JPA (for government servants), private health insurance and EPF Account 2.
  • HFM/HFP will finance the treatments for Hepatitis C for those who are truly poor, as determined by a means test.
  • HFM/HFP will also advocate for positive changes to our health policies (third party financing, pharmaceutical pricing, etc) to improve everyone's access to the treatments they need.

 

Treatment for Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is now curable with simple, once daily medicines taken orally for a duration of only 12 weeks (longer for those with complicated liver disease), with a good safety profile (minimal side-effects) [4,5]. Treatment is initiated only for those who are screened positive and who "active" disease as determined by the presence of HCV RNA in the blood.

Directly Acting Anti-Virals (DAAs) are highly effective and can completely cure HCV infection with a short duration of treatment. They are breakthrough treatments for Hepatitis C with very high cure rates of 90% to 99% depending on genotype (type of virus), severity of disease, treatment experience, and other factors [5].

Unfortunately, as often in Malaysia, new and advanced medicines are often priced out of reach for all but the wealthiest or well-connected patients. HFM/HFP is therefore also committed to assisting people who are found to have Hepatitis C through our screening campaign to receive these breakthrough treatments:

  • HFP is therefore also committed to assisting people who are found to have Hepatitis through our screening campaign to receive the medical treatments which they will need:
  • HFP will help eligible patients to secure reimbursement from the relevant payers such as SOCSO (for eligible workers), JPA (for government servants), private health insurance and EPF Account 2.
  • HFP will finance the treatments for Hepatitis C for those who are truly poor, as determined by a means test. (only in Pahang state by Hepatitis Free Pahang).
  • HFM/HFP will also advocate for positive changes to our health policies (third party financing, pharmaceutical pricing, etc) to improve access to hepatitis treatment.

 

Treatment for Hepatitis B

Malaysia has introduced a national Hepatitis B vaccination program for all new-borns since 1989. The prevalence and health impact of Hepatitis B will gradually diminish in our population over time [6]. However, many Malaysian adults (those born before 1989) will have been exposed without the protection of vaccine, and they will require screening for Hepatitis B and treatment if screened positive. Unlike Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B is not yet curable but it is treatable [7,8]. This means, there are effective treatments to prevent the Hepatitis B infected liver from progressing to liver cirrhosis and cancer (these are what kill a person, not the Hepatitis B per se). The current available treatments are not curative, which means a person with Hepatitis B will often need to be on life-long therapy [7,8]. Not all tested f Hepatitis B (HBsAg positive) requires treatment. Treatment is initiated only when Hepatitis B virus in the liver is "active" and there is evidence of liver disease [8.9]. A person with persistent Hepatitis B infection with therefore requires regular monitoring of his blood to detect the activity of the virus [8,9]. Hepatitis B is treated with medicines such as Peg-Interferon, Entecavir and Tenofovir. HFP is presently only committed to help finance the treatment for Hepatitis C but NOT for Hepatitis B yet (on account of limitation of funding).

HFP will help eligible patients to secure reimbursement for Hepatitis B treatment from the relevant payers such as SOCSO (for eligible workers), JPA (for government servants), private health insurance and EPF Account 2.

 

References

     
  1. Ali A Mokdad, Alan D Lopez, Saied Shahraz, Rafael Lozano, Ali H Mokdad, Jeff Stanaway, Christopher JL Murray, Mohsen Naghavi. Liver cirrhosis mortality in 187 countries between 1980 and 2010: a systematic analysis. BMC Medicine 2014, 12:145
  2. Globocan 2012. Available from http://globocan.iarc.fr/
  3. Relationship between Spending on and Access to Medicines, and Health Benefits foregone in a middle income country Malaysia. [Abstract by GF Ho, RP Kaur, AS Dass, Zaki Morad, TO Lim, submitted to 8th Annual Asian Oncology Summit 2016]
  4. World Health Organization (WHO). Hepatitis C Fact sheet 164, 2014. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs164/en/ . Accessed 18 March 2017.
  5. World Health Organization (WHO). Guidelines for the Screening, Care and Treatment of Persons with Chronic Hepatitis C infection. Updated version April 2016. http://www.who.int/hiv/pub/hepatitis/hepatitis-c-guidelines/en/ . Accessed 18 March 2017
  6. Ng KP, Ngeow YF, Rozainah K, Rosmawati M. Hepatitis B seroprevalence among University of Malaya Students in the Post-universal Infant Vaccination Era. Med J
  7. Malaysia 2013; 68: 144-147
  8. World Health Organization (WHO). Hepatitis B Fact sheet 204, July 2016. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs204/en/ . Accessed 18 March 2017.
  9. World Health Organization (WHO). Guidelines for the prevention, care and treatment of persons living with chronic hepatitis B infection.
  10. http://www.who.int/hiv/pub/hepatitis/hepatitis-b-guidelines/en/ . Accessed 18 March 2017
  11. Sarin SK, Kumar M, Lau GK, Abbas Z, et al. Asian-Pacific clinical practice guidelines on the management of hepatitis B: a 2015 update. Hepatol Int 2015. DOI 10.1007/s12072-015-9675-4