Reported by Liu Chia-Yun from Taipei
Liver diseases have been a health threat to the nation for years. However, according to Dr Chen Din-Shinn, an Academician of the Academia Sinica, chronic liver diseases and liver cirrhosis could be removed from Taiwan’s top 10 causes of death chart as soon as from next year. Dr Chen pointed out that chronic liver diseases and liver cirrhosis were the 10th cause of death in Taiwan in 2016. If the government can expand the screen program of hepatitis C and relax the regulations of the reimbursement of new oral drugs, then it is very likely that liver diseases can be dropped from the top 10 causes of death chart.
According to a survey report produced by the CEVHAP, an international NGO for eradicating hepatitis, hepatitis C screening program is insufficient in most of the 13 countries included in this survey. Taiwan, Japan and Australia have a more comprehensive hepatitis C preventive scheme than other countries. Currently, there are 2.3 million patients with chronic hepatitis B and 600 thousand patients with chronic hepatitis C in Taiwan. Dr Chen Din-Shinn believed there is still room for improvement.
Dr Chen pointed out that liver cirrhosis contributes greatly to the death associated with liver problems. However, the treatments for liver cirrhosis have been improving over the past years. The health authority started tackling hepatitis 35 years ago by setting treatment targets, including hepatitis B vaccination for new born babies, screening for chronic hepatitis B, reimbursement of hepatitis B drugs and the recent policy of reimbursing new oral drugs for hepatitis C. These efforts will help to remove liver problems from the top10 causes of death chart.
Dr Chen urged the MOHW to relax the regulations of NHI-reimbursed screening and treatments for hepatitis C and to bring them into line with those for hepatitis A and hepatitis B. He also suggested that the health authority should make the new oral drugs for hepatitis C more accessible. Prof Kao Jia-Horng of the NTUH pointed out that the new oral drugs for hepatitis C are quite effective in reducing the mortality cases associated with liver cirrhosis.
Wang Ing-Wei, Director of the Health Promotion Administration (HPA), pointed out that the authority is currently assessing a proposal to reduce the age for public-funded hepatitis screening from 45 to 40. The HPA will also analyse the data collected for the NHI, university enrolment and military services in order to locate patients who haven’t been treated.
【2017-07-09 / United Daily】