Dr. David Kershenobich told Efe today that the often complicated health conditions that migrants bring with other risk factors can affect infectious diseases such as hepatitis C to increase their incidence and prevalence in the places where they arrive. .
Kershenobichs, director of the National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition, Salvador Zubirán (Incmnsz), noted that 71.5 million hepatitis C viruses are currently infected in the world, yet 90% of them do not know.
It is estimated that there are approximately 600,000 people in Mexico who suffer from this disease.
"It's a disease that can be easily transmitted because the carrier is not aware of its condition until it develops complications," he said.
Since the end of October, thousands of Central American migrants – some 11,500, mostly from Honduras and Salvador – travel through Mexico to enter the United States after they fleeing violence and poverty in their own country.
The specialist explained that because of a lack of diagnosis, at least 25% of the infected person develops cirrhosis or liver cancer, so timely detection is essential because "it is a preventable and curable disease."
The expert pointed out that the disease can be detected prematurely because the infection window is eight days, "therefore the test can be done at the same time and come out positively."
In Mexico, he explained that only 1% of people who are infected with hepatitis C are being treated, so it is important that patients have access to treatment to avoid complications.
He said it could save up to 2.4 million pesos ($ 120,775) per patient per year, which is estimated to be the cost each patient represents in Mexico's health system.
He pointed out that Mexico could control the disease if screening is conducted, for the population as a whole "to help in diagnosis and early treatment".
Dr. Kershenobich explained that citizens should know the main risk factors.
"Among them are people born between 1945 and 1965 who had transfusions before 1995, intravenous drug users, people imprisoned, patients with HIV, hemodialysis patients and diabetes," he said.
He explained that the group of people with diabetes is particularly worrying, "since this is a situation that already has an epidemiological emergency in Mexico."
However, he said that the main responsibility of health care systems is to look for so-called "hidden patients", and for this purpose screening testing should be planned throughout the population.
"Specially in addiction centers, prisons, and this also applies to medical and nursing staff, and it must be achieved in the most remote areas of the country," he said.
In the same way, he said that there is a need for detection campaigns and information about the disease, "because it is a disease with a treatment rate of 96%, and this is only achieved for 12 weeks," he said.
Finally, the director of the Incmnsz noted that it was necessary to promote a patient register to find out the incidence and prevalence of this condition, and thus be able to develop guidelines for care and a national policy for comprehensive care for these patients. EFE