CAIRO: A campaign for children with hepatitis C virus, a virus that has a high probability of developing into HIV/AIDS, has just been cranked up a gear.
Unlike most campaigns where experts and speakers usually focus on numbers and statistics, the conference held at the Cairo Opera House on Thursday provided a well-planned strategy that can be achieved within a realistic deadline.
According to Unicef, Egypt has the world s highest percentage of Hepatitis C. Eighteen percent of the population are infected with the virus. The campaign s main goal is to lower the number of patients and stop the spread of the virus by the year 2015.
Sex and drug abuse are the main reasons for the spreading of the disease in Egypt, said Ambassador Moshirah Khatab, president of the Egyptian Council for Motherhood and Childhood.
Hatem Al-Gabali, minister of health and population, in a recorded speech aired at the conference said he was focusing on raising awareness of the disease, its symptoms and its patients to combat social stigma.
The infected person has the right to enjoy all his rights in education and health without discrimination and this will not be achieved without awareness, he said.
The minister also indicated that there is a hotline that is available 24 hours a day for the public to call for more information related to the disease. The hotline provided by the ministry is free and its number is 800 700 8000.
The Egyptian Council for Motherhood and Childhood also has a hotline, 16000, to help and support children at any time anywhere in Egypt, according to Khatab.
Al-Gabali also emphasized that there are fully equipped clinics to deal with hepatitis C in Cairo, Alexandria, El-Gharbyiah, Sharqeya, Kafr El-Sheikh, Ismailia, Fayoum, Aswan, Beni Suef, and the Red Sea.
The World Health Organization indicates that there are around 12,000 infected persons living with the HIV virus in Egypt.
In the Middle East, the number of HIV positive people by the end of last year reached 720,000. The number of new cases that appeared in 2005 amounted to 64,000 cases.
According to a World Health Organization (WHO) report, at least 170 million people – more than 2.8 percent of the world’s population – are chronically infected with Hepatitis C.