The World Health Organisation (WHO) has joined the global community in celebrating World Hepatitis Day with the theme “Hepatitis can’t wait” and called for efforts to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030.
Over 354 million people worldwide live with chronic hepatitis; over 8,000 new infections of hepatitis B and C occur every day, and more than one million deaths from advanced liver disease and liver cancer occur every year.
WHO recently launched first-ever global guidance for countries seeking to validate elimination of hepatitis B virus (HBV) and/or hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection as a public health problem.
It also, released first guidelines on hepatitis C virus self-testing, which strongly recommend offering self-testing for hepatitis C virus (HCV) as an additional approach to HCV testing services.
While progress has been made in the hepatitis response, there is still a long way to go.
It said that in far too many countries, priority interventions remain inaccessible to the populations most severely affected or at higher risk.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has impeded the development and delivery of core services that tackle viral hepatitis and other infectious diseases and NCDs. During this incredibly challenging year, we have witnessed the ability of health and community systems to adapt to continue to reach people in need,” it said.
WHO will host a virtual event to commemorate the day, with the participation of senior WHO officials, ministers of health, global and regional partner organisations and communities affected by hepatitis.