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HomeNews ReleaseWorld Hepatitis Summit urges elimination of viral hepatitis as paediatric cases rise

World Hepatitis Summit urges elimination of viral hepatitis as paediatric cases rise

The World Hepatitis Summit 2022 was launched on 7 June, organised by World Hepatitis Alliance and co-sponsored by the World Health Organisation (WHO). It will review progress and renew commitments by global partners to accelerate action to achieve the global target of eliminating of viral hepatitis by 2030.

The summit will be attended virtually by delegates from more than 100 countries, including world leaders, ministers of health, public health officials, medical professional, parliamentarians, academics and representatives from organisations of people affected by viral hepatitis.

At the 2016 World Health Assembly, countries made a historic commitment to eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030. Since then, most have met the global 2020 target of reducing the incidence of hepatitis B in children under 5, and the number of people receiving treatment for hepatitis C has increased 10-fold.

However, most countries failed to meet other 2020 targets. Timely access to the hepatitis B birth dose is still low in many low- and middle-income countries. Meanwhile, lack of awareness, limited political commitment, as well as stigma and discrimination continue to stop people accessing testing and care. It is estimated 354m people globally are still living with this life-threatening infection and at least one person dies from viral hepatitis every 30 seconds. That’s more than 1m deaths per year – a greater toll than that from HIV and malaria combined.

“Hepatitis is one of the most devastating diseases on earth, but it’s also one of the most preventable and treatable, with services that can be delivered easily and cheaply at the primary health care level,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

“Many of the reasons people miss out on those services are the same reasons they miss out on services for other health challenges – accessibility and affordability, because of who they are, where they live or how much they earn. We call on all countries to commit to realising the dream of eliminating viral hepatitis by 2030, as part of a broader commitment to universal health coverage based on strong primary health care.”

Most recently, in the months leading up to the Summit, some 700 cases of sudden and unexplained hepatitis in children have come under investigation in 34 countries. Symptoms of this acute hepatitis come on quickly ,leading to a high proportion of children developing liver failure, with a few requiring liver transplants.

The Summit will showcase these epidemiologic updates and progress towards the commitment to eliminate hepatitis by 2030. In June 2021, WHO provided interim guidance on the criteria needs to achieve to be validated for the elimination of Hepatitis B and C viruses. Seven countries that have piloted these criteria will share their experiences and progress on the path to elimination.

The new WHO Global Health Sector Strategy (GHSS) on viral hepatitis, 2022-2030, recently reviewed and noted at the World Health Assembly, will play a strong part in this summit. The strategy contains operational and strategic shifts to ensure that globally we are on track to achieve the 2030 goal of ending viral hepatitis.

This third World Hepatitis Summit will open with a high-level panel discussion featuring Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO); Helen Clark, former prime minister, New Zealand; Professor Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, acting health minister, Egypt; Dr Tenu Avafia, deputy executive director, Unitaid; and Charles Gore, executive director, Medicines Patent Pool.

Danjuma Adda, World Hepatitis Alliance President, said, “We have come a long way, as a global community, in the drive towards hepatitis elimination. I thank the WHO and all partners for their support in this journey. We still have a long way to go to reach many populations affected by viral hepatitis. The World Hepatitis Summit promises to deliver on the power of the community, scientific and policy partnerships in driving the elimination goals of viral hepatitis.”

Issued by World Hepatitis Alliance



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