A Group of Health Professors focused on a Hepatitis Elimination Programme are back on the island to conduct the next phase with patients in collaboration with the Niue Health Department.
Sydney based Professor of Gastroenterology and Hepatology -Dr. Alice Lee says the work has been done in Niue to assess all of the population whether they do have viral Hepatitis.
“So 10 years ago, we identified that there was a gap and the need to address Hepatitis B in the Pacific islands, so we’ve been working in different countries addressing the gaps from vaccination requirements to evaluating the disease burden and most importantly to introduce antibiotic therapy for patients with Hepatitis B,” she said.
There are currently 8 cases that have been identified by the team.
Dr Lees aid they have identified a cohort of patients, so the trip this time around is to really come back and assess those patients and ensure they get access to treatment.
She added they did another series of surveys and they now have a rate of less than one percent, this is the lowest its going to get and this is the elimination that has ready been achieved without the team even stepping into the island.
“The work has been done by the Ministry and its an extortionary model of what can be achieved in other places with super high rates which has almost been eliminated with almost zero,” she added.
She said patients will have to stay on the medication for the next five years with on-going monitoring required and will continue to ensure that the medications are available to those who need it and also support the Government to ensure there is sustainability in the Programme.
Since 2019, a New-Zealand based viral hepatitis elimination project and non-governmental organisation known as Cure-A-Country has been working with the Niue health department to achieve its goal of curing a nation from viral hepatitis.
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that is caused by a variety of infectious viruses and noninfectious agents leading to a range of health problems, some of which can be fatal.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) report, an estimated 354 million people worldwide live with hepatitis B or C, and for most, testing and treatment remain beyond reach.
The WHO has a target to eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030 and Niue is the only country who has reached that target.