The consequences of hepatitis C virus infection (HCV), a curable disease, are a major problem for the survival of the world's population, particularly in Africa. Over the decades, hepatitis has been viewed differently in various African countries, but the common denominator was that traditional habits exposing the population to contaminated blood were not negligible. The international health community has made remarkable efforts to combat HCV, but an estimated 1.5 million people contract new infections every year, and HCV was the sixth leading cause of death in 2017. Developed countries play a key role in the fight against HCV, and some African countries such as Egypt and Rwanda have given hope that the elimination plan and goals set by the WHO are possible to achieve despite challenges, including those related to economic, political and social factors. Hope also lies in the fact that the treatment is available and can still be affordable once countries commit to it.
Justine Umutesi studied epidemiology at the Hannover Medical School and the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research in Braunschweig, Germany, and obtained her PhD in August 2022 under the supervision of Prof. Gérard Krause. She also holds a master's degree in the US-CDC Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) at the University of Rwanda (2014-2016), and studied sexual and reproductive health (SRH) at the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp/Belgium in 2018. She worked for over 15 years at the Rwanda Biomedical Center, Rwanda as coordinator of sexually transmitted infection prevention, where she coordinated mass vaccination and screening campaigns for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), cervical cancer and viral hepatitis, and trained over 45,000 secondary and university students in SRH. She follows the Mathematical Modeling for Infectious Disease Planning in Africa program with the Harvard T. CHAN School of Public Health and the University of Global Health Equity (UGHE), where she is guided by Associate Professor Dr. Bethany Hedt-Gauthier and Associate Professor Dr. Caroline Buckee from Harvard University.