Lionel Messi – Tour n Cure press image
CAIRO – 22 February 2017: Argentine football legend Lionel Messi arrived in Egypt Tuesday as part of Egypt’s Tour n Cure campaign to combat Hepatitis C. During his first day Messi explored the Great Pyramids of Giza and met with Egyptian children.
Messi’s visit to Egypt has been met with fanfare, both from within the state and from its citizens. Messi attended a gala at the MENA House hotel in the presence of several ministers after visiting the pyramids.
The Tour n Cure is a medical tourism campaign aimed at promoting the treatment of Hepatitis C in Egypt while offering its patients a chance to visit the numerous touristic sites the country has to offer.
more than one million patients in Egypt were treated by the end of 2016.
According to the state-owned
, Messi met with Egyptologist Zahi Hawass, who explained to Messi the history of the pyramids and the work being carried out to better understand the Khufu pyramid, the largest of the three pyramids on the Giza Plateau.
Hepatitis C is a serious health issue. The World Health Organization
between 130-150 million people have a chronic Hepatitis C infection, and roughly 700,000 people die each year due to Hepatitis C-related liver diseases.
Messi has been actively campaigning for Hepatitis C treatment through his official Facebook page.
Hepatitis C has been a serious problem in Egypt, spreading throughout the population from the 1950s to the 1980s when a national vaccination campaign which reused needles contributed to the spread of the infection,
. In 2014 the organization said at least one in 10 Egyptians aged between 15 and 59 are infected, adding that the virus kills an estimated 40,000 Egyptians a year.
The government has been making strides to combat the virus, and its efforts were recognized by the WHO in 2016 during a visit by WHO Director General Margret Chan,
. During her visit, Chan said Egypt had “set a new example in the treatment of Hepatitis C and combating the epidemic.”