It will be a ‘challenge’ to eliminate hepatitis C in Ireland by 2030 – charity says

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It will be a challenge to eliminate hepatitis C in Ireland by 2030, according to a charity which supports people living with the virus.

The Hepatitis C Partnership said access to treatment across the country remains “regionally inconsistent” for thousands of patients.

The charity, which focuses on providing care for people with liver disease, presented the information at the World Hepatitis Summit on Thursday.

It has also produced a roadmap for Ireland to follow in order to eliminate hepatitis C by the target year of 2030.

The roadmap includes views from people across Ireland with lived experience of hepatitis C treatment, as well as hospital consultants, nurses, peer workers and general practitioners.

The partnership’s secretary, Nicola Perry, said that over the past decade, treatment options have advanced significantly and treatments with high rates of efficacy are now available.

“We are fortunate in Ireland to have both a policy focus on hepatitis C through our national treatment programme, as well as many dedicated professionals providing excellent care across the country,” he said. she stated.

“Phenomenal work has been undertaken so far – however, reaching the elimination targets by 2030 will always be a challenge, and that is what we will rally to and drive towards.

“It’s about building on the successes Ireland have had so far and uniting with a clear focus on elimination.

“As one person told us during the consultation, ‘it’s curable and it’s doable’. I believe this is true both at the individual level and at the national level. We have great people working on hepatitis C in Ireland – elimination is something we can achieve. »

Last week, an Oireachtas committee heard that Ireland was facing challenges in meeting the elimination targets set by the WHO.

Dublin GP Austin O’Carroll told the committee there were “big black areas in the country where you can’t get treatment”.

As part of the roadmap, a large survey showed that only 20% of patients can easily access treatment outside Dublin.

The committee heard that up to 700 people in Ireland each year find out they have hepatitis C, meaning there could be up to 30,000 people here living with the virus, thousands of whom don’t. have no idea they have it.

Pharmacist and lawyer Kate O’Connell said five of Ireland’s eight hospitals that provide specialist hepatitis C care are located in Dublin.

Ms O’Connell said it put “major pressure on patients across the country who are really trying to access the cure”.

“It could be this government’s smoking ban. If care pathways are properly addressed, we could easily eradicate this virus and the suffering that comes with it,” she added.

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