Europe Adopts Regional Action Plan to Eliminate Viral Hepatitis

14 Sep 2016 Tara Farrell

Today, representatives from the 53 countries in the WHO European Region adopted the first-ever Action Plan for viral hepatitis.

The Action Plan, which comes in the wake of the recently adopted Global Health Sector Strategy on viral hepatitis, will address viral hepatitis as a public health threat and pave the way towards its elimination from the European Region by 2030.

An estimated 13 million people in the Region are living with chronic hepatitis B infection and about 15 million with chronic hepatitis C infection. Two thirds of those infected are in countries in Eastern Europe and central Asia. Every day in the Region over 450 people still die of liver cirrhosis or cancer, although prevention tools and life-saving treatment are available.

Charles Gore, President of the World Hepatitis Alliance, who attended the meeting made an intervention urging European representatives to “leave no-one behind”.

“Now we have an excellent roadmap to help Member States translate that strategy into a European context in the form of this Regional Action Plan. Many of us have died and are still dying waiting for the concrete action this Plan sets out. Please do not let us down.”

Similarly, speaking about the Action Plan, Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO, also reiterated the fact that viral hepatitis disproportionately affects marginalised and stigmatised populations.

The European Region now has a chance to take action through the development and implementation of comprehensive national plans for all those affected and demonstrate the promise made in the SDGs to address inequity was not just words but is a real commitment.

Charles Gore ended his intervention by committing that civil society will do all it can to support Member States through initiatives like the global NOhep elimination movement and the European Hep-Core study.

Access the Draft Action Plan here.