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Turkish Embassy: Hepatitis C Elimination Program in Georgia Does Not Cause Cancer

Monday, July9
Turkish Embassy in Georgia has rejected the spread information in media that Turkish specialists believe Hepatitis C Elimination Program underway in Georgia develops cancer after treatment. The Embassy says the program is quite effective and Georgia uses the same medicines as Turkey.

The statement by the Embassy reads that they received a letter from Turkish clinic Florence Nightingale which explains that the “groundless” statements made by a person using their name, was not agreed with the administration of the clinic.

“The hospital is concerned because its name was mentioned in this context… The information spread in the media and social networks recently does not correspond to the reality,” the embassy says.

“It is important that we rejected the personal statements and opinions of non-specialists and relied only on the official information of competent bodies regarding the statistics of Georgian patients undergoing treatment in Turkey,” the statement added.

On July 4, an interview was published by Fortuna FM, where MalinaBerekashvili, a representative of one of the clinics in Turkey, said that patients who are beneficiaries of C hepatitis in Georgia are developing tumors after treatment. The article also said that the cancer cases in Georgian patients have increased a lot recently.

Georgia’s Ministry of Health called this statement “irresponsible”, adding the spread information is not true.

Eka Adamia, Head of Public Healthcare Division of the Ministry of Health said the treatment provided by the program does not develop cancer but on the contrary, helps to prevent it.

“Hepatitis C Program drugs - Harvon and Sophosbuvir are not only used in Georgia but also throughout the world, and their effectiveness is confirmed by many studies…Statement that the C hepatitis elimination program causes cancer is not based on any statistics and it is false,” she added.

Adamia says if some patients really develop cancer, it might happen because people address doctors too late.

On July 5, Batumelebi contacted Malina Berekashvili, who rejected the information spread by Fortuna FM, saying she did not mention that Hepatitis C Prevention Program in Georgia causes cancer.

“Hepatitis C program does not cause tumor. When hepatitis C is genetically excreted from the body, it may reoccur as a tumor. It does not happen to many patients. One of the twenty patients may develop cancer after the treatment. I have not said that the C hepatitis program in Georgia kills,” she explained.

The health project - Georgia without Hepatitis C - was launched in country in April 2015, when the government of Georgia and an American biotechnology company, Gilead, signed a memorandum of understanding.

The project helps to reduce and prevent Hepatitis C cases in Georgia. The main goal of the project is to stop the disease from being highly contagious. The treatment is free of charge for citizens of Georgia.

In May 2016, at the World Health Assembly, the governments of 194 countries adopted the first strategy of the viral hepatitis and developed the first global goals.

One of the goals of the strategy is treatment of 8 million people with hepatitis B and C by 2020 and the long-term goal is 90% reduction of new infections and 65% reduction of viral hepatitis mortality by 2030.

The Hepatitis C Elimination Program in Georgia is unique, as it is free and available for all infected citizens of the country.