7.1 million lives to be saved if governments agree to eliminate global killer

24 May 2016 Bridie Taylor

The World Hepatitis Alliance is calling on 194 Member States to support the adoption of the World Health Organization’s first ever Elimination Strategy for Viral Hepatitis at the World Health Assembly

London, 24 May 2016: On Thursday, 194 countries will change the course of history for viral hepatitis. At the 69th World Health Assembly, taking place from 23-28 May 2016, governments will decide to adopt or reject the Global Health Sector Strategy (GHSS) on viral hepatitis, 2016 – 2021, which sets a goal of eliminating viral hepatitis B and C by 2030.

Worldwide viral hepatitis accounts for 1.4 million deaths per year – more than HIV/AIDS or malaria – yet it suffers from a lack of awareness and political de-prioritisation. The GHSS signals a new commitment. It includes a set of prevention and treatment targets which will reduce annual deaths by 65% and increase treatment to 80%, saving 7.1 million lives by 2030 globally.

“Elimination of viral hepatitis is feasible and achievable but only if governments support the adoption of the strategy.” said Raquel Peck, Chief Executive Officer of the World Hepatitis Alliance. “The strategy represents a pivotal moment for viral hepatitis. Reducing mortality rates will not only mean a reduction in the personal cost of viral hepatitis, but will also mean reduced financial costs, with health systems no longer having to deal with significant numbers of people suffering from the results of untreated viral hepatitis.”

The strategy outlines a number of key targets that, if reached by 2030, would eliminate hepatitis B and C as a public health threat:

  • 90% of infants receive a hepatitis b birth dose vaccination
  • 100% of blood donations screened
  • 90% of injections are safe
  • 90% of people aware of their illness
  • 80% of people treated

Governments have already committed to combatting viral hepatitis in the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (Target 3.3). The GHSS and the implementation of national plans will be key to meeting this target, along with a number of specific actions, including a dramatic scale up of prevention, testing and treatment.

Ahead of the Assembly, the World Hepatitis Alliance and its 230 member organisations are calling on governments to support the adoption of the strategy and the targets, and be part of eliminating a global killer. Peck added “If governments reject the strategy, they will be perpetuating the inexplicable under-priorisation of viral hepatitis and turning their backs on saving 7.1 million lives.”

Find out more about the World Health Assembly and follow live webcasts from the event here. You can also watch the World Hepatitis Alliance animated strategy video here.

NOTES TO EDITORS

About Viral Hepatitis

Viral hepatitis is inflammation of the liver caused by a virus, and globally kills more than 1.4 million people every year. There are five different hepatitis viruses - hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. Hepatitis A is spread mainly through ingestion of contaminated food and water and there are an estimated 1.4 million cases each year. Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with the blood or other bodily fluids of an infected person and approximately 240 million people are living with chronic infections. Hepatitis C is mainly spread through blood-to-blood contact such as unsafe injection practices and inadequate sterilisation of medical equipment. Hepatitis D is passed on through contact with infected blood and only occurs in people who are already infected with hepatitis B. Hepatitis E, like hepatitis A, is transmitted through ingesting contaminated food or water. http://worldhepatitisalliance.org/en/viral-hepatitis

The World Hepatitis Alliance

The World Hepatitis Alliance (WHA) is a patient-led and patient driven non-governmental organisation (NGO). With over 230 member patient groups from 81 countries, WHA provides global leadership to drive action to help eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030. Their aim is to work with governments, members and other key partners to support and elevate patient voices, to raise the profile of viral hepatitis and to help establish comprehensive national hepatitis strategies which have robust prevention measures and access to affordable diagnostics and treatment.

http://www.worldhepatitisalliance.org/

Media Contacts

Tara Farrell

Communications Manager

World Hepatitis Alliance

Tara.farrell@worldhepatitisalliance.org

+44 (0) 20 7378 0159

Bridie Taylor

Communications Officer

World Hepatitis Alliance

Bridie.taylor@worldhepatitisalliance.org