Innovative approaches towards a village free from viral hepatitis in Egypt

By Association of Liver Patient Care (ALPC)

Hepatitis C represents one of the greatest public health burdens in Egypt, which bears the highest prevalence rate in world. Recent political commitment has resulted in the adoption of a national elimination strategy and the rise of generic DAAs has reduced treatment costs. Yet strong government support has not been enough to reach many of Egypt’s poor and rural communities.

The Association of Liver Patient Care (ALPC) developed an innovative programme that aimed to eliminate hepatitis C among villages, improving the lives of those often hardest to reach and serving as exemplary models for their approach.

The unique initiative follows a community-based strategy, reaching out to the villagers for testing and treatment, sharing behaviour change messages and empowering villagers to demand their right to health. It combines a range of public health approaches and uses the four P’s of social mobilisation to structure its approach:

  1. Product: The product, in this case tests and treatment, was provided by ALPC and its partners and supported financially by their charity donation model.
  2. Promotion: The initiative was promoted through culturally sensitive messages that were researched and developed in conjugation with the community. The messaging stressed how villagers’ lives would improve if they were tested and treated. Messaging was tailored to specific audiences and communicated via different methods such as SMS campaigns, cartoons and songs.
  3. Price: Despite the availability of generic DAAs in Egypt, the price is still out of reach for many rural villagers. ALPC utilised the well-established concept in Islam of the rich giving to the poor to cover test and treatment costs.
  4. Place: Where villagers were able to access testing and treatment was crucial to the pilot initiative’s success. By operating in community-based clinics and building capacity among villagers to deliver healthcare messages, ALPC were able to reach almost the entire village’s population.

The initiative was first carried out in June 2015 in Al-Othmanya village in northern Egypt and has since been extended to 36 other villages, resulting in more than 85,000 people screened and 8,324 treated. The programme proves the power of people taking charge of the health of their communities and the benefits of people-led change.

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