Gilead Sciences leads Hepatitis B, C awareness to Africa Cup of Nations
In its efforts to spread awareness on the deadly diseases, Hepatitis B and C among majority of Africans, Gilead Sciences, a research-based biopharmaceutical firm, will lead a health campaign to the ongoing African Cup of Nations (AFCON).
Through a partnership with the Africa’s biggest football tournament and some local organisations, Gilead will launch a new Hepatitis B and C awareness campaign, dubbed “Kick Virus B and C,” with a central focus on how the disease has become a threat to over 70 million Africans and core information on how to get tested.
Leveraging the competition to reach millions of football fans, the California-based firm will communicate via branding at stadia across Egypt, a campaign website, the tournament’s official website, social media content and an interactive display at the Cairo International Stadium.
“We are excited to be kicking off this important public health campaign at the Africa Cup of Nations. Too many people are unaware that they are living with hepatitis B or C, putting themselves and their loved ones at risk of serious complications and even premature death,” said Clifford Samuel, senior vice president, Access Operations and Emerging Markets, Gilead Sciences.
“Working with our partners across the continent, we want to encourage people to get tested and if diagnosed, to access the appropriate healthcare.”
Chronic viral Hepatitis B affects about 60 million Africans; Hepatitis C threatens 10 million and jointly kills more people in Africa each year than tuberculosis, malaria or HIV. The disease often affects the most youthful and productive members of the African population.
The new campaign will look to address the fact that few people with viral hepatitis have been diagnosed due to limited awareness and access to testing. This is a problem in Africa, but also globally, where only 20 percent of the estimated 71 million people living with hepatitis C have been diagnosed. For the estimated 257 million people living with hepatitis B around the world, this figure stands at only nine percent.
In 2016, the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the WHO adopted the Global Health Sector Strategy on Viral Hepatitis, which called for elimination of viral hepatitis as a major public health threat by 2030. This strategy set targets to reduce the number of new infections by 90 percent and mortality rates by 65 percent.
The outreach is designed to support local healthcare and community organizations across Africa to help meet these targets.
“The Confédération Africaine de Football (CAF) is pleased to partner with Gilead on this campaign and believe it will help to build greater awareness of the need for Hepatitis B and C screening and testing across our continent,” said CAF President Ahmad Ahmad said in a statement sent to BusinessDay.
“The 2019 Total Africa Cup of Nations will commence with a new 24-team format, increasing the size of its reach. The tournament is therefore the ideal platform to help this campaign communicate across the entire continent,” he said.
2019 Africa Cup of Nations is the 32nd edition of the tournament and begun in Egypt from last Friday with a total of 24 nations competing.
Gilead Sciences discovers, develops and commercializes innovative medicines in areas of unmet medical need. The company strives to transform and simplify care for people with life-threatening illnesses around the world.
The firm has operations in more than 35 countries worldwide. In more than 140 low- and middle-income countries, Gilead works with public health officials, community advocates, researchers, doctors and patients to break barriers and create opportunities for communities impacted by HIV, viral hepatitis and visceral leishmaniasis.