Nobody knows and they’re not trying to find out


The Ministry of Health does not know how many cases there are of hepatitis in Ukraine.  Unofficial data suggest that 3 to 5 percent of the Ukrainian population may be infected with hepatitis C, “the gentle killer”, a virus which if untreated leads in the majority of cases to the death of the patient. WHO specialists believe that if measures are not taken, in the next 10-20 years the number of deaths from hepatitis C and its effects could double or triple.

The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union sent an information request to the Ministry of Health in August this year.  The letter they received, dated 20 September, states that no statistics are being kept on the numbers of people with hepatitis B or C or complications arising from them.

The letter states: “A register is envisaged for people with several viral forms of hepatitis B or C”.

It then immediately goes on to say that there are no diagnostic facilities free of charge, since the commercial laboratories use a very expensive form of testing.  There are some regulations for when the test should be free, but judging from the letter in most medical establishments only one test is available, indicating whether a person has hepatitis B.

This depressing list is rounded off with the information that there is no government programme at present for treatment of hepatitis B or C, and the State Budget for treatment of illnesses for 2005 and 2006 (sic) does not allocate any spending. Treatment is financed, the letter says, from local budgets.


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