More than 6 million treated for hepatitis globally
Since 2015, nearly 3 million people initiated treatment for hepatitis C, and in 2016 alone nearly 3 million initiated hepatitis B treatment, according to an announcement from the World Health Organization in conjunction with the World Hepatitis Summit. But despite this progress, leaders are calling for more action toward eradication of viral hepatitis.
“We have seen a nearly 5-fold increase in the number of countries developing national plans to eliminate life-threatening viral hepatitis over the last 5 years,” Gottfried Hirnschall, MD, MPH, director of WHO’s Department of HIV and Global Hepatitis Programme, said in the announcement. “These results bring hope that the elimination of hepatitis can and will become a reality.”
WHO co-sponsored the World Hepatitis Summit 2017 and announced that globally, 1.76 million people began HCV treatment in 2016, compounding the 1.1 million people who received treatment in 2015. Additionally, 2.8 million people began treatment for HBV in 2016, on top of the 1.7 million who began the ongoing treatment in 2015.
“We cannot lose sight of the fact that last year 194 governments committed to eliminating viral hepatitis by 2030. For sure we are still a long way from this goal but that doe sn’t mean it’s some unattainable dream. It’s eminently achievable. It just requires immediate action,” according to Charles Gore, president of World Hepatitis Alliance .
In the WHO announcement, the organization called on governments and medical bodies to continue prevention efforts and increase screening for hepatitis so more people can receive treatment. As WHO set a date of 2030 for eradication of hepatitis, more will need to be done to achieve that goal.
“We cannot meet the ambitious hepatitis elimination targets without innovation in prevention interventions and approaches, and implementing them to scale,” Ren Minghui , MD, PhD, MPH , assistant director-general for Communicable Diseases, WHO, said in the announcement . “The great successes of hepatitis B vaccination programmes in many countries need to be replicated and sustained globally in the context of moving forwar d to universal health coverage.” – by Katrina Altersitz
Disclosure: Hirnschall and Minghui work for WHO and report no relevant financial disclosures. Gore works for the World Hepatitis Alliance.