Friday, August 19, 2022
NewsScottish university expert key to Hepatitis C battle in Africa

Scottish university expert key to Hepatitis C battle in Africa

A SCOTTISH university expert is set to lead a project to battle Hepatitis C infections in Africa.

University of Dundee Professor, John Dillon will head the £2m project to lead elimination efforts in one of the continent’s worst affected nations, Ethiopia.

Around three million people are affected by the potentially fatal infection.

The DESTINE project will bring together the Universities of Dundee and Bristol and NHS Tayside with several medical schools and other key institutions in Ethiopia.

University expert
Professor John Dillon will lead project to battle Hepatitis C in Africa.

The team will investigate the extent of Hepatitis C (HCV) infection in the country using epidemiological and modelling techniques.

Care will then be designed around pathways created in the UK and will be moulded to suit patients in Ethiopia.

Professor and consultant hepatologist at NHS Tayside, John Dillon commented: “The World Health Organisation has set a target for the world to eliminate HCV by 2030 and, while many of the more developed countries have put plans in place to reach this target, this has been more difficult in low- and middle-income countries.

“For example, in Ethiopia the number of people living with HCV infection is not known, although estimates suggest it may be around 3 million.

“Our work in Tayside largely centred around removing the barriers faced by patients. We knew that at each step of the pathway we lost people, so the aim was to make the steps smaller and simpler.”

The programme instigated by NHS Tayside has treated almost 2,000 people, more than 90% of the region living with HCV. Allowing both WHO and Scottish Government targets for HCV elimination to be met.

Dillon continued: “That is the principle we will be applying to the Ethiopian context, while working with stakeholders and community members in the country to ensure that any outputs take account of local attitudes to service providers, stigma, and regional and ethnic issues.”

Hepatitis C is a blood borne virus which affects the liver and can lead to cirrhosis, liver failure or liver cancer.

Around 90% of HCV infections occur in people who inject drugs, or have previously done so, through sharing needles.

The four-year project will measure how common HCV infection is in Ethiopia and predict how its ongoing HCV epidemic will progress.

Much of the work will be done by PhD students at either Dundee of Bristol University who will split their studies between the UK and Ethiopia.

The project will inform Ethiopian Government strategic planning for HCV and enhance associated skill sets within the four major Ethiopian Medical schools, thereby enhancing the country’s research infrastructure.

 

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