A message from WHA president, Danjuma Adda
28 July World Hepatitis Day 2023
Every year, more than a million lives are lost to hepatitis. We’re not waiting for change – we’re fighting to make it happen.
The theme for World Hepatitis Day 2023 is “We’re not waiting”. It is an opportunity to celebrate the actions individuals take in their own lives everyday to protect themselves from the harms of hepatitis. This includes getting tested, starting treatment when their doctor recommends, protecting their family through antenatal screening, mothers starting treatment if they need it and ensuring their new born babies are vaccinated at birth. It is also a time to celebrate the incredible organisations around the world who “aren’t waiting” and are working tirelessly to eliminate hepatitis in their communities. They are the true heroes of the battle against hepatitis and the World Hepatitis Alliance is proud to stand should-to-shoulder with you in this fight.
I am living with hepatitis B and I lost my mother to hepatitis C. If my mother had been diagnosed sooner she would probably be alive today but she was diagnosed too late. I became a hepatitis advocate as I didn’t want others to suffer the same pain I have had of losing loved ones whilst living with my hepatitis B diagnosis. I realised that, as a community, we need to raise awareness of this life-threatening disease. We needed to change the narrative about hepatitis.
Since the last World Hepatitis Day, The Global Fund has made a commitment to expand support for hepatitis-related services which will bring hope for so many communities. Increased investment is vital to meet the World Health Organization’s 2030 elimination targets, we call on funders to integrate viral hepatitis into their programs for equitable and people-centered healthcare.
Although there has been progress, we still face many challenges. Liver cancer related to hepatitis is on the rise around the world, especially in low- and middle-income countries. Stigma and discrimination continue to be a barrier to testing and care; and globally more than 350 million people are still living with this life-threatening disease.
In Africa, only 30% of countries have introduced the birth dose vaccine and only 6% of newborns receive a hepatitis B vaccine at birth.
Last month, we received news that Gavi will be resuming their hepatitis B birth dose programme. We thank Gavi for this commitment and wait with interest for further clarity around the timings of the implementation.
One of us dies every 30 seconds from a hepatitis related illness. But World Hepatitis Day is a next milestone on our journey towards hepatitis elimination.
I wish you a successful World Hepatitis Day. Thank you for your commitment. Hepatitis Can’t Wait!
President, World Hepatitis Alliance