WHO lauds Viet Nam’s health insurance coverage of new hepatitis C treatment

Short news

The World Health Organization (WHO) Representative Office in Viet Nam commends the decision of the Ministry of Health to approve the inclusion of hepatitis C treatment in the list of medicines partially reimbursable through health insurance. Starting 1 January 2019 patients will be able to avail of 50% reimbursement for direct-acting antivirals (DAA), a recently developed treatment for hepatitis C with a cure rate as high as 95-97%.

A lay provider performs hepatitis C virus testing in Can Tho City, Viet Nam
Photo: WHO Viet Nam

“With the new policy in place, more hepatitis C patients will have access to this life-saving treatment; more patients can be cured. Liver cancer and mortality caused by hepatitis C virus can be prevented,” said Dr Nguyen Trong Khoa, Vice Director of Viet Nam Administration for Medical Services

Viet Nam has a high burden of hepatitis C, with an estimated 1 million people living with hepatitis C. Hepatitis C and hepatitis B are the leading causes of liver cancer in the country. Over the years, the Ministry of Health has made efforts to improve access to hepatitis C medicines, including the development of guidelines on its treatment, in which direct-acting antivirals are recommended, as well as approval for direct-acting antivirals to be registered in Viet Nam.

“We commend this decision by the Ministry of Health, although we also note that access to hepatitis C treatment will remain challenging for many patients given the still relatively high co-payment rate. WHO will continue working with Viet Nam’s public health sector to ensure that access to treatment for hepatitis C patients will be further improved,” Dr Kidong Park, WHO Representative in Viet Nam, remarked.