Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

In 2000, the global health community failed to recognise viral hepatitis as a major hindrance to development. As a result it did not appear in the Millennium Development Goals. Fifteen years later it finally got the recognition it deserves and was officially acknowledged as a global health and development priority when more than 160 global leaders signed up to 17 Sustainable Development Goals to protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable agenda.

Viral hepatitis was included as a focus area in the health related goal – Goal 3.3 – with world leaders pledging to ‘combat’ it by 2030. In response, WHO drafted the Global Viral Hepatitis Strategy which was then subsequently adopted in 2016 by all of its Member States. This Strategy carries ambitious targets which if reached will reduce the number of deaths by 65% and increase treatment rates from 1% to 80%.

“By 2030, end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases.”

Viral hepatitis isn’t just a health issue, it affects many areas of our society and ‘combatting’ it will contribute to achieving many other of the SDG targets:

Target 1.1

By 2030, eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere, currently measured as people living on less than $1.25 a day. Globally, 100 million go into poverty each year as a result of healthcare spending. People living with viral hepatitis are often put into a precarious position due to high-cost medicines and poor social infrastructure for marginalised groups.

To eradicate extreme poverty by 2030, measures will need to be put in place to ensure vulnerable groups receive the necessary social and economic support.


By 2030, reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births. 

Hepatitis E is a major cause of illness and death in the developing world. It’s the most common cause of acute viral hepatitis worldwide with an estimated 3.4 million cases, leading to 70,000 deaths and 3,000 stillbirths per year.

By improving hygiene and increasing access to safe water, maternal mortality caused by viral hepatitis can be reduced. 

Target 3.4

By 2030, reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being.

Hepatitis C virus is a major health problem affecting between 70 – 150 million people, globally. People living with hepatitis C are at risk of developing liver complications, including cirrhosis and liver cancer, resulting in an estimated 700,000 deaths annually. However, studies show that hepatitis C can present itself in other ways -including cardiovascular, renal, metabolic and central nervous system diseases.

By providing adequate screening and access to treatment for people living with viral hepatitis, we can help reach the goal by 2030.

Target 3.5

Strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol.

Globally, 67% of people who inject drugs are infected with hepatitis C and in some countries it is as high as 97%. Yet, global coverage of harm reduction programmes for people who inject drugs, including needle and syringe programmes, is less than 10%.

By ensuring each person who injects drugs has access to at least 300 sterile needles and syringes per year, we can help prevent the harmful impact of viral hepatitis.

Target 3.8

Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential healthcare services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.

Despite the revolution in the hepatitis C therapeutic field which brought us a cure, and the fact that an effective vaccine and treatment for hepatitis B exist, currently less than 1% living with this disease are receiving treatment. Without those life-saving interventions, people will continue to develop liver cancer and die.

Considering the sheer number of people living with viral hepatitis, making sure they have access to essential healthcare services and medicines will significantly contribute to achieving this target.   

TARGET 6.1 /6.2

By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all

Globally, 748 million people lack access to a safe source of drinking water and 2,500 million people, more than one third of the global population, live without basic sanitation facilities, leading to increase chance of contracting hepatitis A.

Hepatitis E, which is responsible for an estimated 3.4 million infections worldwide each year is also principally transmitted via contaminated water.

By ensuring all people have access to safe drinking water and sanitation, deaths caused by viral hepatitis A and E can be significantly reduced. 


By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status.

One in three people living with viral hepatitis won’t tell a family member, friend or colleague about their illness. The stigmatising attitudes felt by people living with viral hepatitis and towards groups that are more at risk of the disease is hampering access to health services.

Healthcare providers, governments and civil society need to include people living with and those at risk of viral hepatitis as key groups which need to be empowered and promoted to speak out.


Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels 

The 400 million people living with viral hepatitis worldwide are the ones experiencing the true impact of the disease – physically, emotionally, psychologically and financially. As such, no decision about their health should be made without them.

The inclusion of patient voices in decision-making is vital for a truly inclusive society.