Attendees of the inaugural World Hepatitis Summit intend to urge their respective nations to develop programs focused on addressing viral hepatitis as a major public health issue.
“We know how to prevent viral hepatitis, we have a safe and effective vaccine for hepatitis B, and we now have medicines that can cure people with hepatitis C and control hepatitis B infection,” said Dr Gottfried Hirnschall, Director of the WHO’s Global Hepatitis Programme. “Yet access to diagnosis and treatment is still lacking or inaccessible in many parts of the world. This summit is a wake-up call to build momentum to prevent, diagnose, treat – and eventually eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health problem.”
Today, the World Health Organization estimates there are over 400 million people with viral hepatitis, and that this disease claims about 1.45 million lives every year, ranking it one of the most common causes of death in the world. Among the many types of Hepatitis, B and C are known to cause about 80 percent of all liver cancer-related deaths. What is surprising is, most people with a chronic viral hepatitis infection are not even aware they have it.
The first-ever World Hepatitis Summit will be co-presented by the WHO and the World Hepatitis Alliance. It will be held in Glasgow by the Scottish Government this week (September 2-4, 2015), and is the first high-level global meeting to be heavily focused on hepatitis. The presentors expect the attendance of professionals and experts from over 60 countries, all determined to learn more on how best to fight the disease in their respective countries and contribute to a solution on a global level.
The conference will also be attended by policymakers, patient groups, physicians and other prominent stakeholders, all aiming to submit a declaration that underscores their stand on the importance of eliminating viral hepatitis, and pressing governments to work closer with the WHO to set goals in hepatitis prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
At the same time, the WHO is set to launch a new manual that covers the development and assessment of national viral hepatitis during the summit. Present policymakers and stakeholders will be sitting down to discuss the draft WHO Global Health Sector Strategy on Viral Hepatitis, which defines targets for 2030, such as: 1) a 90% reduction in new cases of chronic hepatitis B and C, 2) 65% reduction in hepatitis B and C deaths, and 3) treatment of 80% of eligible people with chronic hepatitis B and C infections.
The co-sponsors plan to make the World Hepatitis Summit an annual event to serve as a unique opportunity for countries to come together with a unified purpose, to solve viral hepatitis.
“This summit is about empowering countries to take the practical steps needed at a national level. It has brought here to Scotland patients’ groups and civil society from across the world to support countries in doing this. We can eliminate viral hepatitis as a major global killer but we must all work together to make that vision a reality,” said Charles Gore, President of the World Hepatitis Alliance.