President, World Hepatitis Alliance
Liver cancer related to hepatitis is on the rise around the world, especially in low and middle-income countries.
There is a significant lack of awareness that chronic viral hepatitis is the leading cause of liver cancer globally and is accountable for over a million deaths every year. Globally, more than 350 million people are still living with viral hepatitis. Sadly, most people living with hepatitis are unaware of their diagnosis before it is too late.
Although there is a cure and vaccine for hepatitis C and effective treatment for hepatitis B, we continue to see stigma and discrimination as barriers to care and challenges around access to preventative testing and treatment services, especially among under-served populations.
Hepatitis advocacy progress
The year 2022 saw a significant development with more opportunities for countries to request support for hepatitis-related services from the Global Fund than ever before. Furthermore, World Hepatitis Alliance (WHA) and other global organisations called on Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to immediately start their hepatitis B birth dose vaccine programme.
With each additional year of delay in supporting hepatitis B birth dose vaccination programmes, hundreds of thousands more children will acquire hepatitis B at birth and face an uncertain future with the ever-present threat of developing liver cancer.
Sadly, most people living with hepatitis are
unaware of their diagnosis before it is too late.
Collaboration and integrated care
The World Health Organization’s new Global Health Sector Strategy (GHSS) on HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) promotes the disease-specific goals to end AIDS and the epidemics of viral hepatitis and STIs by 2030.
The new strategy also sets out interim 2025 targets that countries will need to work towards. If countries are able to implement these strategies, this integrated elimination effort will not only prevent infections but also save future generations.
Eliminating viral hepatitis will prevent hundreds of thousands of lives lost to liver cancer and other liver diseases as a result of chronic hepatitis. The global health community must continue to amplify the voice, needs and visibility of people living with hepatitis to motivate action and drive change. Collaborated efforts can save more lives. Hepatitis can’t wait!