Health news, North Africa health news

(NYT) Public Health Experiment Brings Hepatitis Cures to Egypt’s Poor

SHABAS EL SHOHODA, Egypt — Abdel Gawad Ellabbad knows exactly how he was infected with hepatitis C.
As a schoolboy in this Nile Delta rice-farming village, his class marched to the local clinic every month for injections against schistosomiasis, a parasitic disease spread by water snails.

A nurse would boil the syringes, fill each with five doses and then jab five boys in a row with a single needle.

“I didn’t want that hot needle touching me, so I thought I’d be smart,” Mr. Ellabbad, 52, said. “I let the other guys go first.”

Abdel Gawad Ellabbad, 52, riding to work in Desouq, Egypt. He contracted hepatitis C as a schoolboy and was cured of the disease this spring after taking a regimen that included the drug sofosbuvir. Credit David Degner for The New York Times

Six million Egyptians were infected with hepatitis C by unsterile needles during the country’s decades-long fight against schistosomiasis. The virus spread insidiously; today, at least 10 percent of Egyptians, nearly nine million people, are chronically infected, the highest rate in the world.

But a grand experiment unfolding across the country may change all that.