Increased access

Strategic Goal Four: Increased access to diagnostics, vaccines and new therapies for hepatitis.

With the vast majority of people living with viral hepatitis still undiagnosed, it will be impossible to reduce the 1.4 million annual death toll without a huge scale-up in testing and treatment. To achieve this it is essential that neither availability nor price are barriers. Even access to the birth dose of hepatitis B vaccine is currently an issue with GAVI only supporting the pentavalent vaccine that cannot be given at birth.

Current Situation

Currently, 130–150 million people globally have chronic hepatitis C infection and more than 240 million are affected by hepatitis B. Antiviral medicines can cure approximately 90% of persons with hepatitis C infection, thereby reducing the risk of death from liver cancer and cirrhosis. Similarly, there is a safe and effective vaccine available for hepatitis B. Yet, more than 1.4 million are dying each year. The single-most important reason for this is that people don’t have access to life-saving drugs.  

What does WHA do?

  • We sit on the Guidelines Development Group (GDG), which is developing the WHO Guidelines on hepatitis B and hepaitits C testing.
  • We unite organisation across the world to call on governments and pharmaceutical companies to address the access issue. In November 2015, we launched an open letter calling for immediate action to vastly improve access to life-saving drugs for viral hepatitis. Signed by over 120 organisations from 55 countries, the letter makes specific requests to national governments and pharmaceutical companies, including addressing the stigma that prevents people getting tested, improving access to diagnostics and ensuring drugs are affordable in all countries.
  • We work with governments and the pharmaceutical industry to ensure rapid registration of technologies and medicines.
  • We form partnerships with organisations who work on this issue to maximise efforts in this area, such as the Medicines Patent Pool.