WHO Global Hepatitis Report reveals goal to eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030

The World Health Organization (WHO) has published the first-ever Global Hepatitis Report. The World Hepatitis Alliance (WHA) welcomes the publication, which is a follow-up to WHO’s Global Strategy on Viral Hepatitis, and has set the goal to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030.

The report aims to standardize the understanding of the disease, which is a vital starting point for evaluating improvement towards reaching the 2030 goal to eliminate the disease, and reveals the regional and global new baseline data on the impact of viral hepatitis B and C.

A major public health challenge, viral hepatitis requires an urgent response. The Global Hepatitis Report has concluded for the first time that:

  • 1.34 million people worldwide die every year due to viral hepatitis; the number is comparable with deaths caused by tuberculosis, HIV, and malaria annually.
  • 325 million people are affected by viral hepatitis, which constitutes approximately 4.4% of the world population.
  • 9% of the population has Hepatitis B, while 20% having hepatitis C are tested and are aware of the status of their disease.
  • The major cause for the majority of the 1.75 million new hepatitis C infections are due to the use of healthcare procedures and injectable drugs that are unsafe.

For the first time in the history of viral hepatitis, we have an understanding of the true impact of the disease. WHO’s Global Hepatitis Report provides us with new data and a set of very specific, global and regional targets to reach by 2030 - for instance global deaths from hepatitis must be brought down from 1.34 million to lower than 469,000 people per year.”

Charles Gore, President of the World Hepatitis Alliance.

The report reveals that the death rate due to viral hepatitis has risen by 22%, while deaths attributed to other diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV show a downward trend from the year 2000.

Specific actions are to be implemented at the regional and national levels, to reduce the increasing trend.

Scaling-up of birth dose vaccination against hepatitis B is one such action. Although implementing childhood hepatitis B vaccination was successful, reaching a coverage of 84%, the initial birth dose vaccination coverage is as low as 39%. Another action highlighted in the report is to improve the access to significant affordable treatment, as currently it is limited to 1% of viral hepatitis patients.

Today, 325 million men, women and children are living with a cancer-causing illness despite the availability of preventative vaccines for hepatitis B and curative treatments for hepatitis C. We need to use this report to advocate for a public health approach, so that testing and treatment are rolled out at the scale necessary to ensure that every person has the opportunity to live a healthy life. We have the knowledge, what we need now is action.”

Raquel Peck, CEO of World Hepatitis Alliance.

Further information about Viral Hepatitis, the World Hepatitis Alliance, and the World Hepatitis Summit 2017

Viral hepatitis is liver inflammation caused by a virus, and 400 million people are affected globally. Annually 6–10 million people are newly infected and 1.4 million die due to viral hepatitis. There are 5 hepatitis viruses causing Hepatitis types A, B, C, D, and E.

  • Hepatitis A is transmitted through ingestion of contaminated food and water or through direct contact with an infectious person. The risk of infection is associated with unsafe water or food, and poor sanitation and hygiene.
  • Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person. Annually more than 600,000 people die of Hepatitis B complications.
  • Hepatitis C is transmitted through unsafe injection practices, inadequate sterilization of medical equipment, and the transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products. Globally, between 130 and 150 million people have chronic hepatitis C infection.
  • Hepatitis D requires the hepatitis B virus (HBV) for replication, and is transmitted through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person. Worldwide, approximately 15 million people are chronically co-infected with Heptatitis B and Hepatitis D
  • Hepatitis E is transmitted via the fecal–oral route, principally via contaminated water. An estimated 20 million HEV infections occur worldwide annually.

The World Hepatitis Alliance (WHA) is a nongovernmental organization (NGO) led and driven by patients. With 240+ member organizations from 80 countries, WHA contributes to the global fight against viral hepatitis by running global awareness days, convening high-level policy events, building capacity, and pioneering global movement.WHA works with governments, national members, and other key partners to raise awareness of viral hepatitis and influence global change. To achieve a world free from viral hepatitis, their work is strategically structured around awareness-raising, advocacy, and ending the social injustice of viral hepatitis

The World Hepatitis Summit 2017 is a joint initiative between WHO and WHA. The three-day event will be held between 1 and 3 November in São Paulo, Brazil, to discuss how to fast-track the path to elimination. Hundreds of policymakers, patients, civil society, and public health experts will gather to focus on key ways to implement WHO’s Viral Hepatitis Strategy, with a specific focus on how to improve surveillance data, scale-up testing and treatment at the national level, and support service delivery among vulnerable populations. The event will also encourage innovation in research and have a dedicated focus on sustainable financing for elimination, all of which are needed to eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030.

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