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Central Asian country has the highest rate of disease and the highest rate of mortality from the disease in the world.8 November 2017
The Mongolian government is finally tackling liver cancer, an illness that has plagued the country and, together with liver cirrhosis, accounted for 15 percent of all fatalities, The Guardian reports.
Last year, parliament approved subsidies for hepatitis medicine of more than 23.4 billion tugriks ($9.5 million). This year marked the introduction of a screening and treatment program that would cover free hepatitis testing for people between the ages of 40 and 60. And the program, which comes at a cost of 226 tugriks until 2020, will be extended to younger patients in 2018.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Mongolia has the highest rate of liver cancer and highest mortality rate from the disease in the world. Chronic hepatitis, which can quickly develop from an untreated hepatitis infection, is the most common risk factor for liver cancer. Of Mongolia’s 3 million citizens, over 13 percent are diagnosed with a hepatitis virus during their lifetime.
The costs of screening and treatment can be prohibitively expensive. Many patients resort to traditional treatments, such as eating wild boar liver, when they cannot afford the medical costs, WHO reports.
Early diagnosis remains the most critical factor in minimizing the effects of the disease. WHO says that one of the main hurdles in achieving that goal is a shortage of medical clinics with sufficient laboratory capacity to detect viral infection in rural areas.
With the renewed focus on the disease, it is hoped that more education and awareness will lead to lower rates of initial infection, earlier diagnoses, and better survival rates.
“In the area of treatment Mongolia is making really good progress in screening the people, identifying people with chronic hepatitis,” Narantuya Jadambaa, a technical officer in Mongolia for WHO, told The Guardian.
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