KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 6 (Bernama) — Clinical Research Malaysia (CRM), a non-profit company owned by the Ministry of Health (MOH), and Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) today signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to collaborate in research and development of an innovative Hepatitis C diagnostic test.
The initiative is in continuation of a partnership with the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) and forms part of a larger FIND project known as Hepatitis C Elimination through Access to Diagnostics (HEAD-Start), supported by International Drug Purchasing Facility (Unitaid).
Malaysia is the only high-middle-income country included in the project.
The MoU was signed by CRM chief executive officer, Dr Akhmal Yusof and FIND chief access officer, Zachary Katz. It was witnessed by Health Minister, Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, Health director-general, Datuk Dr Noor Hisham and head of FIND’s HCV & HIV Unit, Dr Francesco Marinucci, among the officials.
Dr Akhmal said, “It is a great honour to be part of this research and development effort with FIND, that will eventually lead to more cost-efficient and earlier detection of Hepatitis C. In line with our effort to be a globally trusted organisation and participate in research that matters to Malaysians, we will continue to strive to deliver together with our partner, FIND.”
CRM in a statement said although the World Health Organisation (WHO) has pre-qualified different types of HCV (Hepatitis C virus) tests, screening vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations remains a challenge due to centralised health services, making it difficult to identify those with the disease who need to be linked to care and treatment.
FIND will demonstrate the feasibility of using rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) in decentralised primary healthcare facilities and provide technical assistance to the MOH in Malaysia to support the project.
HCV is one of the world’s most common infectious diseases, usually contracted through unsafe healthcare and injection drug use.
Globally, more than 71 million people are chronically infected, with over 80 per cent of them living in low- and middle-income countries – but only one in five people know they have the disease.
In Malaysia, the HCV disease burden is high and predicted to rise steeply over the coming decades, leading to a projected 63,900 HCV-related deaths by 2039.