CAIRO: Argentinian football star Lionel Messi was in Egypt Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) as the face of an initiative to promote the North African country as a medical tourism destination for hepatitis C patients.
A blood-borne viral disease, hepatitis C is highly prevalent in Egypt.
“Medication against hepatitis C saves lives, let’s put an end to the waiting lists,” the Barcelona FC superstar said on his official Facebook page.
Messi has signed to become the ambassador for Tour n’ Cure, the Egyptian initiative said on its website.
The programme offers treatment for hepatitis C patients from all over the world “with no waiting time and at a fraction of the cost,” it said.
It also promoted “the opportunity to take in the beauty of Egypt and visit historic landmarks during the days of the treatment, while enjoying a relaxing stay at a 5-star hotel”.
Hepatitis C affects 130 to 150 million people globally and can result in liver cirrhosis or cancer.
According to the World Health Organization, it is responsible for up to 500,000 deaths yearly.
Messi’s visit to Egypt was initially scheduled for December, but the footballer postponed it after a suicide bombing of a Cairo church killed 29 people.
He again deferred the visit last week after Barca’s 4-0 defeat to Paris SG, Egypt’s tourism ministry said, but did not give any reason for the postponement.