On July 26th, 2013, 126 representatives from 10 civil society groups visited Thailand’s National Health Security Office (NHSO), which oversees the universal healthcare scheme, in recognition of World Hepatitis Day. Acknowledging the government’s positive steps taken to increase access to HCV treatment in the face of significant barriers, through their successful action in negotiating a lower price of treatment and by putting PEG-IFN on its EDL (Oct. ’12) but in light of the fact that testing and monitoring is still not covered by the healthcare scheme, and that treatment is currently limited to genotypes 2/3 in mono-infected people and approved only for 24 weeks (and not in HIV+), the civil society advocates presented a set of recommendations, which included:
1. NHSO should cover comprehensive screening and testing for risk groups and people on treatment
2. Collect relevant epidemiological data on HCV in PLWHA and PWID at national level.
3. Move PEG-IFN to main Essential Drugs List (from auxilliary) in order to reduce barriers and increase access.
4. Expand eligibility criteria for treatment consideration and access to PLWHA and PWID and for the duration medically necessary
5. Work with relevant stakeholders to develop medical provider capacity to treat HCV, and develop national HCV (and coinfection) treatment guidelines
in Thai that are in accordance with int’l. standards.
6. Support civil society to continue to play an essential role in peer education and advocacy activities for HCV prevention, treatment, etc., in particular in communities at high risk/prevalence, such as PWID, MSM, PLWHA
7.Expand treatment access to areas around the country with the capacity to treat.
Responses from the government will be shared.
Signatories to the letter to NHSO were:
Mitraphap House, On Nut (BKK) Dop-in Center (DIC), Pak Nam Samut Prakhan DIC, Raks Thai Foundation, Mitsampan Harm Reduction Center, Ozone-Prachacheun DIC, Thai Drug User’s Network (TDN), Thai Network of PLWHA (TNP+), Hep C/HIV Working Group, NE Thailand, Hep C/HIV Working Group, Upper North Thailand, Thai AIDS Treatment Action Group (TTAG)
Find the press release in thai here
The Georgian Harm Reduction Network (GHRN) coordinated a week of actions along with its member organizations: New Vector and Hepa Plus in Tbilisi, Step to the future in Gori, Rubiconi in Kutaisi, Xenon in Zugdidi, Ordu in Poti, Tanadgoma and Imedi in Batumi. The campaign was supported by the European Union, Open Society Georgia Foundation and Médecins du Monde.
24 of July: picketing in front of Roche and Merk’s offices in Tbilisi asking for dramatic prices reduction of peginterferon. Activist were carrying their own funeral photographs in black frames to stress they are walking dead if pharmaceutical remain greedy.
In front of Roche’s office - on the banner: “Nu Roche-av!” (Do not "roche" bullshit – in Georgian)
In front of Merck on the banner “Nu khar Merk-antiluri” (Don’t be MERCKcantile – in Georgian).
27 & 28 of July: with the special EU bus, a national campaign tour across the country was organized. This bus made stops in several towns: Gori, Kutaisi, Zugdidi and finished in Batumi – a seaside resort town where all the people go for vacation. In Batumi, a kite action was made on the beach where hand fans and paper caps with campaign identity were distributed to the public. In the evening some of the most popular bands performed during a concert organized in the city center.
On this flyer: «HCV can’t wait, it’s time to drop the prices. Peginterferon cost 15,000 USD in Georgia. Drop the price Vs.USD 2,000 in Egypt. Stop selling treatment as branded clothes, treatment is not for fun».
New York, USA
On eve of World hepatitis day, New Yorkers with hepatitis C and alliers block traffic and occupy lobby of World Health Organization (WHO) demanding leadership to end the epidemic.
People with hepatitis C and allies protested outside of the World Health Organization’s NYC office today to draw attention to the international health agency’s failure to address the global hepatitis C epidemic. The activists, many of who are living with hepatitis C, blocked traffic on Second Avenue at 47th Street after occupying the lobby of WHO’s office building. They also held hundreds of balloons that said “Hep C Time Bomb” and a banner outlining their demands.
We have the tools to end the hepatitis C epidemic, but Dr. Chan can’t summon the political will to take this epidemic seriously,” said Levele Pointer, a VOCAL-NY Users Union member from the Bronx. “With a range of diagnostic options, proven hepatitis C prevention strategies like methadone and syringe exchange, and medication in the pipeline that may cure 100% of people with hepatitis C, there is zero excuse for inaction from WHO.
On july 24, a protest action was carried out in Moscow in front of the Ministry of health of Russia. Activists of the "Patients’ control" came to officials with the requirement to force manufacturers of hepatitis C drugs to decrease prices. The protest took place under the slogans: "There are 5 million people with hepatitis C in Russia", "Treatment costs 500,000 rubles", "Prices Roche and Merck are killing us", "Force Roche and Merck to lower prices".
The same day activists of the "Patients’ control" held pickets at the offices of pharmaceutical companies Roche and Merck and sent letters to them demanding price reductions for hepatitis C treatment.
The prices of the main component of HCV treatment - pegylated interferon – are constantly high for the last 15 years. There are only two major manufacturers of pegylated interferons in the world - Roche and Merck.
"As for today 5 million people are affected by hepatitis C in Russia. Not everyone can afford Hepatitis C treatment. People are getting into debt, sometimes they are forced to sell their homes to buy treatment. We have repeatedly asked the manufacturers to lower prices, but haven’t received any reply. Our last hope - that the new composition of the Ministry of Health will hear us and will take drastic measures to ensure affordable treatment - namely, force companies to decrease prices”, - says Andrey Skvortsov, leader of “Patients’ control” movement.
Kyiv , UKRAINE
President and Prime Minister on Vacation – Hepatitis C on Attack!
Ukraine once again faces July 28, 2013, the World Hepatitis Day, without the specialized National program and without the funds allocated from state budget for the procurement of vital medicines.
Today in Kyiv the patients with Hepatitis C and representatives of the civil society organizations have ceremonially unearthed from under a thick layer of sand in Kyiv Hydropark the concealed Governmental Draft of the State program for combating the spread of viral hepatitis and set it adrift down the Dnipro river together with the open petition to the President, hoping that the documents would finally reach the vacation venues of Ukrainian statesmen, and radically improved National program with the adequate funding will finally be approved, and the responsible officials will stop misleading so impudently 1.2 million of their fellow citizens living with Hepatitis C.
The press release is available here