More than 1 million treated with "highly effective hepatitis C drugs

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Treatment of chronic Hepatitis.  Photo: WHO/G. Hampton (file photo)

More than a million people in low and middle-income countries have been treated with "highly effective" new drugs for the disease hepatitis C, according to the World Health Organization.

Many of the chronic sufferers treated, have been completely cured said WHO on Thursday, during the launch of a report detailing results of a two-year-old programme involving new drugs known as Direct Acting Antivirals, or DAAs.

Daniel Dickinson has more.

Hepatitis C is a virus that attacks the liver, which can remain in the body indefinitely unless treated.

Around 700,000 people die each year from the disease globally, and there are an estimated 80 million sufferers; ten million in China alone.

The new DAA drugs have a cure rate of more than 95 per cent, and work within three months, according to Gottfried Hirnschall, director of WHO's HIV/Global Hepatitis Programme.

Speaking in Geneva, he said the findings were mostly good news, tinged with some concern.

"What was a silent epidemic for the longest period of time is now no longer silent. One million people in low and middle-income countries were able to access these drugs and again a large proportion of those will have been cured. The not-so-good news is that this progress, we only see in a few countries."

WHO said that while some countries such as Egypt, Pakistan, Brazil, Indonesia and Morocco were making major strides, others such as China and Russia, needed to respond faster in order to reap the benefits of the new drugs.

Daniel Dickinson, United Nations.

Duration: 1’09″

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