This past weekend, at the 69th annual World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, 194 Member States made a historic commitment to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030. According to a recent press release from the World Hepatitis Alliance, on Saturday May 28, 2016, governments unanimously voted to adopt the Global Hepatitis Strategy, which aims to save 7.1 million lives from the hepatitis C virus (HCV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV) over the next 15 years.
The strategy, which was put forth by the World Health Organization (WHO), includes a set of prevention and treatment targets that hope to increase hepatitis treatment worldwide by 80 percent, and reduce annual hepatitis-related deaths by 65 percent. The plan also hopes to dramatically scale up resources and prioritization for viral hepatitis initiatives in the 125 WHO member states that do not currently have national strategies to combat hepatitis C or hepatitis B.
Today, it is estimated that nearly 400 million people are affected by viral hepatitis worldwide. Together, hepatitis C and hepatitis B kill an estimated 1.4 million people every year, more than any other infectious disease, including HIV and malaria. However, with effective vaccines, treatments and cures available, global health authorities say eliminating the viruses is achievable with a major ramp-up in testing, treatment and support.
The adoption of WHO’s Global Hepatitis Strategy signals the greatest global commitment to defeating viral hepatitis to date. In honor of the decision, the World Hepatitis Alliance, which has been pushing to get this plan through the WHA for months, will be launching a new advocacy initiative aimed at galvanizing support toward the WHO’s 2030 elimination goals. The movement, titled "NOhep," will launch this World Hepatitis Day, which takes place every year on July 28.