A new report from the Economist Intelligence Unit describes the inadequate governmental response to the hepatitis C epidemic around the globe and urges major action to address the escalating social and economic impact of the virus. While the World Health Organization estimates that some 150 million people worldwide are living with hepatitis C virus (HCV), the report finds that as little as 10 percent are currently receiving antiviral treatment. Furthermore, there are great disparities from country to country in their success or failure in treating citizens.  

The report urges more effective surveillance mechanisms—it found, for example, that 16 countries in the European Union have either poor or nonexistent epidemiological data on hand. In calling for greater public awareness of the disease, the report cites the findings of a survey conducted by the European Liver Patients Association: Only one in five of those with either hepatits B or C had ever heard of the viruses before their diagnosis. The report further calls for improved prevention measures and innovations in patient outreach methods to enter people into treatment before irreparable damage is done to their livers.

“The report highlights that worldwide, despite significant burden of HCV, governments have failed to get a grip on the scale and impact of the disease,” said Charles Gore, president of the World Hepatitis Alliance, in a release. “In both developed and developing countries, the true human and economic cost of HCV will continue to rise unless policy makers confront this urgent public health issue now.”

For the full report, click here.