Screening and treatment for Hepatitis C now free for Dubai residents

Screening and treatment for Hepatitis C now free for Dubai residents

In yet another move that provides a great impetus to long-term healthcare goals, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), has now sought to include the screening and treatment of Hepatitis C in its basic health insurance plan. Thus Dubai residents can avail themselves of these facilities under the Dubai mandatory health insurance scheme.
This move comes close on the heels of the report generated by the World Health Organisation, which declared that close to 399,000 people succumb to this dreaded disease annually, mostly owing to liver cancer and liver cirrhosis which are the offshoots of a late diagnosis. The DHA has confirmed that about 0.23 per cent of the population lives under the shadow of this disease that is manageable if properly diagnosed.
Humaid Al Qutami, director-general of DHA, threw more light on this latest move. He said that since 98 per cent of the population in Dubai is covered under the mandatory health insurance scheme, it makes considerable sense to focus on preventive medicine through this plan, thus ensuring high permeability of coverage and benefits.
Under this new rule, Dubai residents who have had hepatitis C can now have access to care under the basic benefit plan. However, stringent rules for new visa applicants who have had hepatitis C will still be in effect. The new health programme will be especially useful for those who lack adequate cover, thus helping with aspects like early diagnosis, financing of hospital bills and building a network of emotional support.
Hepatitis C is considered dangerous because there is yet no vaccine, though continuing research promises to develop one soon. More than 95 per cent of the afflicted population can hope to be cured with antiviral medication but until now, access to the diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis C was considerably limited. Mr Al Nuami said that under the new initiative, a new patient will have his or her details immediately notified to the DHA patient tracking and follow-up centre, thus paving the way for a smooth and hassle-free process of treatment.
This move proves to be yet another achievement for the Dubai government which already has the rare distinction of being the only administration to cover the screening and treatment of three types of curable cancers.