Hepatitis C is a “silent disease” and the costs it incurs for the state budget in the final stage tend “to explode”, says Aspen Romania Institute CEO Andrei Tarnea (photo).
“We have an idea of the iceberg costs concealed by such a silent disease, which is a killer that appears late in the system, with costs that tend to explode toward the end of its cycle. We have a record of the costs incurred, including the costs pertaining to the social health system, disability pensions, direct budget expenditures, although they don’t enter the medical system category,” Tarnea said on Friday at the launch of the ‘Aspen Life Lab’ program at the Palace of Parliament.
In his turn, health advisor Andrei Baciu explained that hepatitis C is asymptomatic in its early stages, and the patient is diagnosed only at the moment when the disease is already advanced and can evolve even into cirrhosis or cancer. According to Baciu, a national screening program could provide the solution for the early detection of infected patients.
Professor Adrian Streinu-Cercel, manager of the “Dr. Matei Bals” Institute for Infectious Diseases in Bucharest, argues that attention should be focused on the population at high risk of developing hepatitis C; the main disease transmission routes are “intravenous drug use, infection by transmission from mother to fetus, sexual and heterosexual transmission, piercings and tattoos, he cautions.
Health advisor Dan Captaru says that although it is “a chronic, progressive disease that ultimately leads to death by liver failure and liver damage,” hepatitis C is 100 percent curable with the new available therapies. On the other hand, Captaru added that the cases of cirrhosis are expected to double by 2030.
Irma Eva Csiki, scientific researcher with the National Institute for Public Health, presented the results of a study conducted by the institute between 2006 – 2008 on 17,800 people randomly selected from the lists of 88 family physicians in rural and in urban areas.
The disease prevalence in rural areas is of 38 infected persons in 1,000 individuals, and 2.7 percent in urban areas, with the risk of infection in rural areas being 35 percent higher. In Transylvania and Banat the prevalence is 2.6 percent, in Muntenia and Dobrogea it is 3.4 percent and in Moldavia it is 4.3 percent.