The first-ever World Hepatitis Summit kicked off September 2 in Glasgow, Scotland, with the goal of helping countries around the globe develop national programs to combat viral hepatitis and expand international access to treatment, reports the World Health Organization (WHO), which is co-sponsoring the event with the World Hepatitis Alliance.

The three-day meeting, held through September 4, has brought together delegates from more than 60 countries and is the first high-level global meeting to focus specifically on viral liver disease. The meeting includes policymakers, patient groups, physicians and other key health care stakeholders who work with the WHO.

The summit’s ultimate aims are to issue a declaration underlining an international effort to eliminate viral hepatitis, and to define and agree on global targets for hepatitis prevention, diagnosis and treatment. So far, targets have been set for as soon as 2030.

Those targets include: a 90 percent reduction in new cases of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV); a 65 percent reduction in deaths related to hep B and C; and an 80 percent treatment rate for eligible patients living with chronic hepatitis B or C.

WHO organizers intend the summit to become an annual event. Today, about 400 million people worldwide are living with viral liver disease, and its various infections claim an estimated 1.45 million lives each year. In fact, viral hepatitis is one of the world’s leading causes of death.