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Universal Hepatitis C Treatment Program in Europe’s Georgia Shows Promise

Where Is the Country Georgia Located?

Georgia is a small country in Eastern Europe that was founded in 1991. It borders the countries of Turkey, Armenia, Russia, and Azerbaijan. The country has approximately 4.5 million residents. It is considered one of many Middle-income Countries (MICs). This means that their per-capita gross national income is under $12,000. The world economists use this marker when considering operations and analysis of the world’s nations.

What Are They Doing That’s so Special?

Although a fairly small country, Georgia has one of the highest rates of hepatitis C among its residents, at an almost 8% rate. Since many people with hepatitis C do not know they are infected and are not tested, the number of people in Georgia who are living with the hepatitis C virus is likely significantly higher. This medical concern is recognized as a significant problem and the country as a whole has decided to try to do something about it.

Currently, Georgia has a pilot program that they hope will help to eradicate at least 90% of the hepatitis C from their nation’s residents. This program involves the country paying for medical treatment and care for anyone in need. This includes the medical professionals’ wages in order to diagnose and treat patients, the patients’ medications, and all of the required planning and support programs and people to make this process successful. The focus is on fixing the problem on a national level and making it a country-wide problem to solve, rather than the more traditional method of leaving the problem and the solution on the shoulders of the patients.

How This Could Have a Global Impact

If numerous nations decide to adapt their own medical treatment protocol to be inclusive for everyone within their country with any specific virus or illness, the results can become systemically better than they would be for any one individual or small group of residents. This is because much of the stigma is removed from the illness, since the diagnosis is no longer seen as an individual’s problem, as well as because the information regarding how a person becomes infected and how they can receive treatment will become ubiquitous, which removes much misinformation from the nation’s conversation.

In addition, when diagnostic and treatment options become available for all people, regardless of their income level, more people are apt to be tested, this means earlier diagnosis and fewer long-term effects from hepatitis C. This can lead to fewer cases of hepatitis C based cirrhosis, a smaller need for organ transplants, and a much healthier life for people who are able to begin treatment before any effects from the virus set in at all. It can also help to remove much of the stress and anxiety that patients feel during the treatment experience, because they are no longer concerned with whether they can find and afford medical care and whether they can afford the prescription medications that are prescribed to them.

As many nations watch the impact of this pilot program on the nation of Georgia, they are likely to begin to consider whether this method might work for them regarding hepatitis C diagnostics and/or other widespread illnesses within their own countries. This may mean that Georgia’s research can allow other nations to not make the same errors or not need as much planning time, which can lower costs for those countries. Over time, as one country learns from the processes of the nations who participated before, the overall experience can become less expensive, which can entice other countries to join this protocol. Plus, when nations have a direct connection with the medication companies, they are likely able to purchase the drugs in bulk and save money during this process as well.

Although this is currently only one country trying this out one time, the result can be bigger than any one nation can anticipate. This is because it is starting a dialogue within numerous countries, it is showing an increased need for medical research regarding hepatitis C, and it is encouraging so many Middle-income Countries to consider whether their own nation should be setting up internal similar programs for their residents in most need.

It is currently unknown whether larger nations such as China, Canada, or the United States might ever participate in a nationally funded health program, however, these countries are much more likely to have Universal Healthcare or other programs to help residents to afford their hepatitis C testing and treatment. Now, thanks to Georgia’s pilot program, those in smaller nations may also have the help they need to rid their bodies of hepatitis C.1-4

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. A New Paradigm in Disease Control—The Example of Hepatitis C Elimination: Will Countries and Donors Adapt? | Center for Strategic and International Studies. (2016). Retrieved 23 December 2016, from
  2. Middle Income Countries Home. (2016). Retrieved 23 December 2016, from
  3. Universal Hepatitis C Treatment Program in Europe’s Georgia Shows Promise. (2016). HEP. Retrieved 23 December 2016, from
  4. Where is Georgia?. (2016). WorldAtlas. Retrieved 23 December 2016, from