Viral Hepatitis and the Sustainable Development Goals: driving action towards elimination

24 Feb 2016 Tara Farrell

Today, leading medical professionals, policymakers, civil society and patients gathered at a policy symposium organised by the Coalition to Eradicate Viral Hepatitis in Asia Pacific (CEVHAP), to discuss how the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can help clinicians advance hepatitis policy and care in Asia Pacific.

In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly voted to adopt the SDGs. As part of the goals, was goal 3.3 which reads: ‘By 2030, end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases’ and 3.4. which states: ‘By 2030, reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being.’

Charles Gore, President of the World Hepatitis Alliance, presented on how the SGDs can be used as a catalyst to unify both policymakers and civil society around a shared vision. He said, “The Sustainable Development Goals have given, for the first time, recognition to viral hepatitis as a global development priority. We need to use the SDGS to drive action towards our ultimate goal of elimination”.

At the inaugural World Hepatitis Summit held in Glasgow in 2015, the hepatitis community demanded a goal to be set for the elimination of both hepatitis B and C as public health concerns.  This year the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Strategy on the Elimination of Viral Hepatitis is likely to be adopted setting out a list of ambitious targets for 2020 and 2030 and an overall goal of the elimination of viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030.

The draft WHO Global Strategy proposes a set of priority actions for governments to stop hepatitis transmission, strengthen hepatitis services and broaden access to care.

The symposium, held as part of the annual conference of the Asian Pacific Association for the Study of the Liver (APASL), underscored the importance of member states within the Asia region to support the targets and adopt the strategy at the World Health Assembly in May.

Charles Gore reiterated that the WHO upcoming strategy is an important tool to help member states reach the goal of elimination but the SDGS should remain central to driving progress and should be used to ensure sustainability of action.