Eastern Mediterranean region

Situation:

  • It is estimated that a total of 22 million living individuals have been infected with HCV, among whom around 15.4 million are chronically infected.
  • About 80% of these individuals living with hepatitis C are in Egypt and Pakistan, with each of these countries contributing about 5.1 million and 6.6 million chronic infections respectively.
  • There are over half a million people who inject drugs (PWID) in the region and about half of them are infected with hepatitis C.
  • There are around 14.8 million people living with chronic hepatitis B infection in the region.
  • An estimated 80% of all hepatitis B cases live in eight countries: Pakistan, Sudan, Yemen, Iran, Egypt, Syria, Afghanistan and Morocco.
  • It is estimated that 18.8% of people living with hepatitis B in the region are also co-infected with hepatitis D.
  • Most of the hepatitis B and C infections in this region are acquired in the healthcare setting, such as through routine dentistry, blood transfusions and operations.
  • Viral hepatitis mortality is the 5th leading cause of death in North Africa and the Middle East.

Response:

  • Hepatitis B vaccine is incorporated in over 80% of immunisation programmes.
  • Thirteen countries (81%) reported having a written strategy or plan for the prevention and control of viral hepatitis.

In order to address this public health challenge effectively, we need to ensure that governments put in place a comprehensive approach in which there is a concerted effort between the public sector, civil society, academic and the private sector.

Dr Ala Alwan, WHO Regional Director for Eastern Mediterranean

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