Launch of Regional Action Plan for Viral Hepatitis in the Western Pacific 2016–2020

19 May 2016 Tara Farrell

In the Western Pacific Region, more people die from viral hepatitis than from HIV, tuberculosis and malaria combined. The Region has a quarter of the world's population, yet bears 40% of the global deaths from viral hepatitis.

Yesterday, the World Health Organization for the Western Pacific released the Regional Action Plan for Viral Hepatitis in the Western Pacific 2016–2020, which was approved by Member States at the 66th WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific and endorsed as part of Resolution WPR/RC66.1 on 14 October 2015.

The action plan provides a systematic approach to priority areas for action to reduce the impact of viral hepatitis, with a focus on chronic hepatitis B beyond immunization and hepatitis C. It was developed through extensive Member State and expert consultations during 2014 and 2015, during which milestones and targets were proposed and agreed.

One key component of the guidance is testing and treatment targets for the region. WHO’s initial estimates suggest that if these targets are met, by 2020 over 28 million people living with hepatitis B and over 5 million people living with hepatitis C will know their status, and the Region will have treated nearly 5 million people for hepatitis B, and around 1 million for hepatitis C.

Patient groups and civil society in the region have an opportunity to engage their national leadership to advocate for national adaptation or adoption of this document and of the global hepatitis guidance from WHO, including global hepatitis B and hepatitis C treatment guidance and recently released global hepatitis surveillance guidelines.                                                                                                                                         

The next WPRO regional hepatitis meeting is a Member State consultation in Hong Kong June 22 – 24, with 7 high-burden countries.