Long way to eradicate viral hepatitis in Europe

Although the United Nations aims to eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030, a report released on Wednesday (June 15) found that about a quarter of EU/EEA countries have no action plans or strategies for disease prevention and control.

A follow-up survey by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), published on Wednesday, found that six of the 26 EU/EEA member countries surveyed had no action plan or strategy for the prevention and control of viral hepatitis.

Although the vast majority of countries, 19 countries, have a plan in this area, only 11 countries have national funding to implement it. Meanwhile, 22 countries have hepatitis B and C testing guidelines, but many countries’ guidelines do not mention one or more of the major population groups most at risk of hepatitis infection.

Carrie James, CEO of the Global Hepatitis Alliance, told EURACTIV that there is still “A long way to go to achieve the 2030 goals”.

The goals were set in 2015, when the United Nations adopted the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), one of whose goals was “To put an end to epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases, and to combat hepatitis, water-borne and other infectious diseases”.

This goal was supported in 2016, when the World Health Assembly (WHA) endorsed the first global health sector strategy for viral hepatitis, with the goal of reducing new hepatitis B and C infections by 90% and deaths by 65% ​​by 2030.

Tolerances across mass

Chronic infection with hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus is a major cause of chronic liver disease, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma.

In 2017, it was estimated that approximately 5 million people were living with chronic infection with hepatitis B virus and nearly 4 million people were living with chronic infection with hepatitis C virus in the EU/EEA states and the United Kingdom.

In the EU/EEA, deaths attributed to hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus are estimated to be approximately 55% of deaths from liver cancer and 45% of all deaths from cirrhosis and other chronic liver diseases.

The report of the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention also revealed discrepancies in the number of cases registered in different countries. The estimated number of people chronically infected with hepatitis B virus by country ranges from 183 to 3,312 per 100,000 people, which is a large variation.

At the same time, the estimated number of people with chronic HCV infection in each country increased by 100 times, from 24 to 2411 per 100 thousand people.

No country is on track to eliminate hepatitis B

Mr James said that while most countries in Europe are on track to achieve the 2030 hepatitis C elimination goal, the situation is different when it comes to hepatitis B.

“No country in Europe is on track to achieve hepatitis B elimination goals, and no country in the world”Mr. James said.

There is a hepatitis B vaccine that can be given at birth ‘Could completely eradicate disease within a generation’. Treatment is also available to stop the disease progressing to liver cancer or cirrhosis.

Although prevention tools, ‘The world has been slow to take action against hepatitis’Mr. James added.

Last year, the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “We have the tools to achieve these goals, but only if all countries commit to ensuring that everyone has access to them.”

Mr. James called on policy makers to take action to eliminate hepatitis. “Even Dr. Tedros […] He said if there was one disease we could eliminate by 2030, it would be hepatitis.”is done.

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