UNITAID / WORLD HEPATITIS DAY

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26-Jul-2021 00:02:45
On World Hepatitis Day, global health agency Unitaid celebrates progress made against hepatitis C and looks towards 2030 elimination targets. UNITAID / FILE

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STORY: UNITAID / WORLD HEPATITIS DAY
TRT: 2:45
SOURCE: UNITAID / FILE
RESTRICTIONS: CREDIT REQUIREMENT IN SHOTLIST
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 26 JULY 2021, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND / FILE


SHOTLIST:

FILE – CREDIT MEDICINES PATENT POOL / JOHN SCOTLAND - KYIV, UKRAINE

1. Med shot, a man visits a harm reduction clinic in Kyiv, Ukraine and fills out paperwork. The centre provides drug users with either Methadone or Buprenorphine to help them quit their addition, and integrates services for common co-infections including hepatitis C, HIV, and sexually transmitted infections on site.
2. Close up, a former drug user living with HIV who was cured of hepatitis C takes Buprenorphine pills out of a box and takes the medicine at a clinic in Kyiv, Ukraine.
3. Med shot, a nurse is filling out paperwork while patients are discussing with another nurse at a harm reduction clinic in Kyiv, Ukraine.

JULY 2021 – UNITAID - GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

4. Wide shot, Unitaid’s logo on the wall and a roll-up that reads “Unitaid – Innovation in global health” in both English and French.
5. Close up, Unitaid’s logo on the wall.
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Janet Ginnard, Director of Strategy, Unitaid:
“Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that can lead to serious liver damage, including cancer, when left untreated. Worldwide, 58 million people are infected but only one in five is diagnosed. Each year, almost 300,000 people lose their lives to hepatitis C-related causes. Unitaid has proven that simplified testing and treatment for hepatitis C at local healthcare centres is not only feasible, but highly effective. If implemented wide-scale, this will avert thousands of needless hepatitis-related deaths each year.”

FILE – CREDIT FIND / BEN PHILLIPS – AMRITSAR, INDIA

7. Close up, at the Amritsar ART Centre, in the city of Amritsar, Punjab, India, a health care worker tests for hepatitis C virus (HCV) antibodies using a HCV rapid diagnostic test (Premier Medical Corporation, First Response HCV Card Test). The worker adds buffer then plasma to the rapid diagnostic test, and then sets a timer for 20 minutes.

JULY 2021 – UNITAID - GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

8. Various shots, Janet Ginnard, Director of Strategy at Unitaid, working in her office and talking during a conference call.

9. SOUNDBITE (English) Janet Ginnard, Director of Strategy, Unitaid:
“We are already seeing encouraging progress that shows us that meeting World Health Organization targets is possible. Since 2015, hepatitis C-related deaths have decreased by more than 25 percent, and the total number of people infected has fallen from 71 million to 58 million today. Thanks to the work of Unitaid and our partners, we now have the tools we need to fight hepatitis C and achieve these goals – but there is no time to waste. Certain pioneering countries, such as Egypt and Rwanda, are already making this happen. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to strain health systems in resource-limited settings, it’s more essential than ever that we bolster our progress against hepatitis C and avert preventable disease.”


FILE – CREDIT FIND / KATIE G. NELSON - KILIFI, KENYA

10. Close up, at a clinic which provides health services to people who inject drugs in Kilifi, Kenya, a health care worker is pointing at the explanations provided with an HCV self-test kit.
11. Close up, a patient uses an oral HCV self-test at a clinic in Kilifi, Kenya.



STORYLINE:

On World Hepatitis Day (28 July), global health agency Unitaid celebrates progress made against hepatitis C and looks towards 2030 elimination targets.

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that can lead to serious liver damage, including cancer, when left untreated. However, treatment is hampered by a lack of awareness and inadequate access to diagnostic tools.
Worldwide, 58 million people are estimated to be infected with hepatitis C yet only 21 percent receive a diagnosis. An estimated 290,000 people lose their lives to hepatitis C-related causes each year. Marginalized, displaced and poor populations are disproportionately affected, and people who inject drugs and those living with HIV are at particularly high risk of infection.

Progress in recent years has revolutionized treatment, making a cure now possible in just three months for more than 90 percent of people treated. Previously, treatment lasted up to one year, caused serious side effects and had a cure rate of around 50 percent.

Unitaid, with its partners, has helped to secure more affordable prices for these life-saving medicines, making a full course of treatment available for US$300 or less in most low- and middle-income countries, compared to several thousands of dollars in high-income countries. Unitaid is now funding research into the development of a single-injection cure for hepatitis C.

But treatments have little effect if people don’t know they’re infected. Diagnosing hepatitis C previously required complex labs and specialist technicians, making testing expensive and inaccessible. To combat this problem, Unitaid has driven the development and scale up of simple diagnostic tools and demonstrated how to use them to improve their access by at-risk groups and through local clinics.

“Unitaid has proven that simplified testing and treatment for hepatitis C at local healthcare centres is not only feasible – including in resource-limited settings – but highly effective. With more than $45 million invested since 2015, we brought down prices for medicines, simplified testing and raised awareness of these innovations. These methods, if implemented wide scale, hold the key to averting thousands of needless hepatitis-related deaths each year”, said Janet Ginnard, Director of Strategy at Unitaid.

In 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) set a target for hepatitis elimination as a global health threat by 2030.

“We are already seeing encouraging progress that shows us that meeting WHO targets is possible. Since 2015, hepatitis C-related deaths have decreased by more than 25 percent, and the total number of people infected has fallen from 71 million to 58 million today. Thanks to the work of Unitaid and our partners, we now have the tools we need to fight hepatitis C and achieve these goals – but there is no time to waste.

“Certain pioneering countries, such as Egypt and Rwanda, are already making this happen. They are proving that we can reach people infected with hepatitis C, connect them to services, save lives and drive down the disease burden. We now need other countries to follow suit.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to strain health systems in resource-limited settings, it is more essential than ever that we bolster our progress against hepatitis C and avert preventable disease”, said Ginnard.

Unitaid is a global health agency engaged in finding innovative solutions to prevent, diagnose and treat diseases more quickly, cheaply, and effectively, in low- and middle-income countries. Its work includes funding initiatives to address major diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis, as well as HIV co-infections and co-morbidities such as cervical cancer and hepatitis C, and cross-cutting areas, such as fever management.
Unitaid is now applying its expertise to address challenges in advancing new therapies and diagnostics for the COVID-19 pandemic, serving as a key member of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator. Unitaid is hosted by the World Health Organization.
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