RELEASE May 25, 2016
Liver Health Connection is calling on the United States to support the adoption of World Health Organization’s first ever Elimination Strategy for Viral Hepatitis at the World Health Assembly
DENVER — This week, the United States will join 193 countries to change the course of history for viral hepatitis. At the 69th World Health Assembly, taking place from 23-28 May 2016, governments will decide to adopt or reject the Global Health Sector Strategy (GHSS) on viral hepatitis, 2016 – 2021, which sets a goal of eliminating viral hepatitis B and C by 2030.
In the United States an estimated 20,000 people die every year from hepatitis C, a disease that kills more people than any other infectious disease in US – yet it suffers from a lack of awareness and political de-prioritization. The GHSS strategy signals a new commitment. It includes a set of prevention and treatment targets that will reduce annual deaths by 65% and increase treatment to 80%, saving 7.1 million lives by 2030 globally.
“We are at a turning point for viral hepatitis. Elimination is finally within our reach but it is imperative that governments commit to the strategy if we are to achieve it.” said Linda Pryor, board chair of Liver Health Connection. “Saving lives will not only reduce the immense personal cost of viral hepatitis, but will also save money as health systems will no longer have to deal with large numbers of patients suffering from the consequences of untreated hepatitis.”
The strategy outlines a number of key targets that, if reached by 2030, would eliminate hepatitis B and C as a public health threat:
• 90% of infants receive a hepatitis b birth dose vaccination
• 100% of blood donations screened
• 90% of injections are safe
• 90% of people aware of their illness
• 80% of people treated
Governments have already committed to combating viral hepatitis in the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (Target 3.3). The GHSS and the implementation of national plans will be key to meeting this target, along with a number of specific actions, including a dramatic scale up of prevention, testing and treatment.
Ahead of the Assembly, Liver Health Connection and the World Hepatitis Alliance are calling on governments to support the adoption of the strategy and the targets, and be part of eliminating a global killer.
Pryor added “If governments reject the strategy, viral hepatitis will continue to be overlooked and under-prioritized and the opportunity to save 7.1 million lives will be denied.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
Animated Video About the Global Viral Hepatitis Strategy
At the 69th World Health Assembly (23-28 May 2016) governments will decide the fate of viral hepatitis. They will either adopt or reject the first Global Viral Hepatitis Strategy, which sets a goal of eliminating viral hepatitis B and C by 2030. If adopted and implemented, annual deaths will be reduced by 65% and treatment will increase to 80%, saving 7.1 million lives by 2030 globally. https://youtu.be/cVttqfgExL0
About Viral Hepatitis
Viral hepatitis is inflammation of the liver caused by a virus, and globally kills more than 1.4 million people every year. There are five different hepatitis viruses – hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. Hepatitis A is spread mainly through ingestion of contaminated food and water and there are an estimated 1.4 million cases each year. Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with the blood or other bodily fluids of an infected person and approximately 240 million people are living with chronic infections. Hepatitis C is mainly spread through blood-to-blood contact such as unsafe injection practices and inadequate sterilization of medical equipment. Hepatitis D is passed on through contact with infected blood and only occurs in those who are already infected with hepatitis B. Hepatitis E, like hepatitis A, is transmitted through ingesting contaminated food or water. http://worldhepatitisalliance.org/en/viral-hepatitis
Liver Health Connection
Colorado’s Liver Health Connection (formerly Hep C Connection) is the nation’s second largest hepatitis C patient advocacy organization. For more than 20 years, Liver Health Connection promotes liver health and provides education to patients, providers, government officials and the public to support and advocate on behalf of those affected by liver diseases.
Dede Laugesen • Media Relations, Liver Health Connection • 719-659-3121 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Nancy Steinfurth • Executive Director, Liver Health Connection • 720-917-3965 • email@example.com
Karen Chappelow • Community Outreach Director, Liver Health Connection • 720-917-3960 • firstname.lastname@example.org