This week, global health experts from 194 countries will meet at the World Health Organization’s 69th annual World Health Assembly to decide whether to adopt an ambitious new goal to eliminate hepatitis C virus (HCV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV) as public health threats by the year 2030. The meeting, to take place from May 23 to 28, 2016 in Vienna, could mark the WHO’s first-ever commitment to a full-fledged elimination strategy regarding viral liver disease, according to a recent press release by the World Hepatitis Alliance, which has been advocating for member states to pass the initiative for months.
The new strategy, called the Global Health Sector Strategy (GHSS) on Viral Hepatitis, 2016-2021, includes an impressive set of new prevention and treatment targets that aim to reduce annual hepatitis B and hepatitis C related deaths by up to 65 percent and to increase treatment for both conditions up to 80 percent worldwide. If successful, experts say the initiative could save 7.1 million lives over the next 15 years.
Worldwide, the new GHSS strategy also aims to ensure that 90 percent of infants around receive a hepatitis B vaccination at birth, that 100 percent of blood donations are screened for HBV and HCV, and that up to 90 percent of all injections are safe. A comprehensive new global hepatitis testing strategy would also aim to ensure that 90 percent of people living with either chronic hepatitis B or C worldwide are aware of their illness.
Today, more than 240 million people around the world are thought to be living with chronic HBV or HCV. Additionally, viral hepatitis accounts for nearly 1.4 million deaths every year, more than any other infectious disease globally, including HIV and malaria.
For more information about the potential new GHSS plan, check out the World Hepatitis Alliance’s animated strategy video here. To check the status on the World Hepatitis Alliances decision on the initiative, click here.