At the World Health Assembly, member states voted to adopt the first strategy targeted to eliminate worldwide viral hepatitis within the next 14 years, according to a press release.
“The adoption of WHO Viral Hepatitis Strategy signals the first step in eliminating viral hepatitis, an illness which affects 400 million worldwide,” Raquel Peck, CEO of the World Hepatitis Alliance, said in the release. “We congratulate governments for showing great ambition. If governments remain committed, we will witness one of the greatest global health threats eliminated within our lifetimes.”
The goal of the Global Viral Hepatitis Strategy is to eradicate hepatitis B and C by 2030, saving 7.1 million lives, the release said. Targets of the strategy include:
- vaccinating 90% of infants against hepatitis B;
- screening 100% of blood donations;
- ensuring 90% of injections are safe;
- raising awareness to 90% of infected individuals; and
- increasing treatment to 80% of patients.
If reached by 2030, these targets could result in a 65% reduction in annual mortality.
“Reducing mortality rates will not only mean a reduction in the personal cost of viral hepatitis, but will also mean reduced financial costs, with health systems no longer having to deal with significant numbers of people suffering from the results of untreated viral hepatitis,” Peck said in a release.
While the strategy demonstrates political will to end viral hepatitis, the World Hepatitis Alliance said more efforts are needed to achieve this goal, and called upon WHO member states to develop national strategies. As of February, only 36 of 194 member states had implemented viral hepatitis national plans, and 33 states had plans in development.
Disclosure: Peck reports no relevant financial disclosures.