By Jake Lippincott
The Egyptian Institute for Personal Rights (EIPR) has issued a statement confirming “that there are scientific alternatives for the provision of a cure for millions of Egyptians infected with Hepatitis C” and calling on the government to take more effective action in order to “reduce and then eliminate viral Hepatitis C”.
This statement comes on the heels of an announcement by Egyptian army doctor, Major General Ibrahim Abdul Atti, stating that his research team had developed a high tech cure for Hepatitis C and HIV, involving an adapted electronic device that supposedly detects and cures the viruses.
The device’s curative properties have not been tested by independent authorities and Abdul Atti also stated that he would not allow the device to be exported in order to keep it out of the hands of the international pharmaceutical “mafia”.
The statements have been met with scepticism from many scientific authorities inside and outside Egypt. A science adviser to the Egyptian interim president said that the announcement “hurts the image of scientists and science [in Egypt]” and warned not to “invent illusionary solutions to real problems”.
The controversy seems to have attracted new attention to Egypt’s rampant Hepatitis C epidemic, which, according to the EIPR statement, currently infects around 12 million Egyptians, or 14.7% of the population.
The EIPR statement makes no mention of the new device, or the surrounding controversy, but instead stresses the need for the Egyptian government to make prohibitively expensive Hepatitis C treatments more available to patients in Egypt.
In a meeting held on Sunday by EIPR, at the request of global pharmaceutical company Gilead, several strategies were outlined, including direct negotiations with drug companies, the use of generic versions of drugs, and collaboration with other countries with high incidences of Hepatitis C in order to collectively find solutions to the problem of unaffordable medicine.