National Hepatitis C Awareness Campaign

Partnership objectives

  1. Team up with doctors to launch national 6 month to raise awarenes of  Hepatitis C.
  2. Follow up "HCV Patients Accelerate Program” program for long-term patient access to treatment. 

The program is endorsed by the Ministry of Health and is implemented in close collaboration with charity organisations. The program is endorsed by the Ministry of Health and is implemented in close collaboration with charity organisations. Copyright Roche

What are the health needs and challenges?

The Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is often a silent killer. It can cause both acute and chronic liver disease; ranging in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness, or even liver cancer. It often causes no symptoms until there is irreversible liver damage.

In many areas of the Middle East there are insufficient data about HCV prevalence and understanding around prevention and treatment. For example, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), estimates suggest that up to 2.5% of people suffer from hepatitis C infection.  However, less than half of eligible patients have access to treatment.

As in other countries, there is urgent need for education about the risk of HCV infection from contaminated instruments and certain traditional habits. Universal access to screening, diagnosis and antiviral therapy is also imperative.

Description of partnership activities and how they address needs and challenges

In December 2012, Roche co-launched the first National Hepatitis C Awareness Campaign across the UAE with the Emirates Gastroenterology and Hepatology Society. The aim of the six-month campaign was to:

  • raise awareness of and education on Hepatitis C
  • accelerate prevention and control of viral hepatitis
  • strengthen relationships with key stakeholders
  • improve the diagnosis rate through screening activities
  • enable access to treatment for HCV patients
  • conduct screening activities across the UAE

The target audience for the comprehensive campaign was the general public, hepatitis C positive patients, charities, healthcare professionals and the media. To reach this nationwide audience, the campaign used a dedicated website and a toll-free number, sent 150,000 text messages, and distributed information cards in English and Arabic, as well as over 50,000 bi-lingual brochures. Numerous ads were also placed in newspapers and on radio.

Roche also helped the Emirates National Gastroenterology and Hepatology society conduct a press conference, send electronic newsletters to healthcare professionals and hold free screening clinics in malls and social clubs.

Summary of impact and forward looking information

The campaign reached over 40% of the population—3.5 million out of 8.5 million people—and was well received by all stakeholders for achieving results that included:

  • over 1,700 calls placed to the toll-free number
  • 49 screening events that tested 8,800 people, yielding more than 250 cases of HCV
  • 36 mentions in print and online media and TV and radio reports

By working within the local community, Roche played an integral role in increasing awareness of the importance of screening, disease management, treatment options and the steps needed to increase a patient’s adherence to treatment.

A follow-on campaign launched in mid-2013, the “HCV Patients Accelerate Program” is a second stage to provide long-term patient access to treatment through charities. Charity organisations play a crucial role by covering treatment costs for those patients without health insurance or very low income.

The new program retained effective elements of the initial campaign, such as the toll-free call centre which enrols eligible patients into the program. In addition, it established a centralised patient database to track patients’ treatment progress. It also contacts various NGOs, who are key stakeholders, to ensure a smooth process and secure a full course of treatment for patients.

The program is endorsed by the Ministry of Health and is implemented in close collaboration with charity organisations.

Partnership information

Company(ies) Roche

Partner(s) Emirates Gastroenterology and Hepatology Society, UAE Ministry of Health, United Arab Emirates Ministry of Health

Type of Partner(s) Government, NGOs

Therapeutic Focus Vaccine-Preventable Diseases

Disease(s) Hepatitis

Program Type(s) Prevention Programs - Awareness & Outreach

Targeted Population(s) Men, People with low income, Women

Region(s) Middle East & North Africa

Number of Countries 1

Country(ies) United Arab Emirates

Start Date 2012

More information Roche Access to Healthcare

Anticipated completion date Ongoing

« We are happy partnering with Roche, as the campaign could be implemented on a larger scale. We have also received very positive feedback from the Ministry of Health. »

Dr. Maryam Alkatry, President of the Emirates Gastroenterology and Hepatology Society