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Photograph: Freeimages.com / Afonso Lima

Croatia is about to get a blueprint of a national strategy and action plan for the fight against hepatitis viruses, so as to join in the implementation of a World Health Organisation strategy that aims to eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030, a panel organised by the Croatian association of patients suffering from this infectious disease heard earlier in the week.

The WHO strategy provides for broad use of vaccinations against hepatitis B and new effective drugs against hepatitis C (HCV) in order to eradicate those diseases in the next 15 years.

The head of the WHO office in Croatia,  Antoinette Kaic-Rak, said that eliminating those viral diseases was a priority for the health sector in Croatia.

In Croatia, there is no official register of people suffering from those diseases and an estimated 39,000 Croatians are infected with hepatitis C and 28,000 are estimated to have hepatitis B.

The best way to prevent hepatitis B is to be vaccinated.

HCV can be cured with new drugs added to the list of the Croatian Health Insurance Agency (HZZO). This treatment is 100% effective, lasts 12 weeks and costs HRK 360,000. The treatment of all those infected would cost the HZZO about HRK 20 million, which the HZZO cannot afford, so priority lists have been compiled, but this year the HZZO increased outlays for HCV treatment to HRK 55 million from last year's HRK 13 million.

(EUR 1 = HRK 7.6)

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