POST-RELEASE: Protest action in front of the Russian Ministry of Health “TO TREAT HEPATITIS C? CHEAPER TO BURY…”
Protest action in front of the Russian Ministry of Health
“TO TREAT HEPATITIS C? CHEAPER TO BURY…”
In the morning, on the 4th of September, people passing the building of Ministry of Health on Rakhmanovsky Pereulok in Moscow could see a huge yellow banner “TREAT HEPATITIS C? IT IS CHEAPER TO BURY. MINISTRY OF HEALTH” stretched on the fence. Next to the banner, there was a man in a doctor’s robe with a mask, symbolizing Dr. Death who preferred not to treat but to kill patients, as it would be much cheaper for the state budget. In such a radical way a group of civil society activists and patients once again tried to attract the attention of the Ministry of Health to the unsolved problem of Hepatitis C in Russia.
“Today, Russia has more than 5 million people affected by Hepatitis C. Only very few of them can afford treatment. A lot of people living with hepatitis C are injecting drug users, who often are also infected with HIV or suffering from tuberculosis. Treatment of Hepatitis C is supposed to be free of charge according to the state law, but often it is not available, and patients are humiliated. Drug addicts are not considered as people. Treatment is not available at all for them. “We hope that the new management of the Ministry of Health office will hear us and take fundamental measures aimed at ensuring affordable treatment for hepatitis C” – says the participant of the project “Narkofobiya” Alexander Dolphinov.
“If we cure all, then we will stop the epidemic” – says Anya Sarang, president of Andrey Rylkov Foundation. “The must provide treatment to many more people, as most patients are actually doomed, they cannot and will never be able to afford at their own expense life-saving drugs to cure hepatitis C”.
The action was organized as a picket. After the protest Dr. Death and other activists went to the reception of the Ministry of Health, trying to get an appointment with the Minister of Health, but they were refused because Mrs. Skvortsova was very busy at that moment. At the reception, the activists left a report describing the situation with access to treatment for hepatitis C in the Russian Federation, prepared by Andrey Rylkov Foundation. The Report was sent to the Department of Health and Sanitary-Epidemiological Well-Being. When the activists left the Ministry of Health, one activist was detained, taken to the Tverskoe Police Department. In accordance with Article 51 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation the activist refused to testify against himself, and was released.
According to the data of World Health Organization, there are more than 150 million people worldwide, who are living with hepatitis C. In Russia, according to various estimates, the number is between 3 and 7 million.
The average price per treatment of hepatitis C (48 weeks of pegylated interferon in combination with ribavirin) in the commercial market in Russia is more than half a million rubles, while the drugs do not always allow the patient to fully cure a virus and treatment has a number of serious side effects, as well.
At present, the Russian Government provides treatment for an extremely small number of patients – according to the independent patient’s monitoring, in 2012 for the federal program budgeting less than 4,000 patients could be treated. Thus, the government has allocated funding for this in amount of 1 billion 358 million rubles. The cost of treatment with pegylated interferon alfa-2a within the state program in 2012 was 419,199 rubles.
Due to the fact that Ministry of Health has not taken any steps so far to successful negotiations with pharmaceutical companies for providing lower prices, the treatment remains inaccessible to patients.
With the support of the movement “Patients in Control”
Categories: ARF advocacy at the national level, Hepatitis in Russia | Tags: access to treatment, actions, advocacy, Anya Sarang, ARF, HCV, hepatitis C | 2 comments »