Professor Margaret Hellard addresses the WISH 2018 Forum on Vital Hepatitis
Limited financial resources and a lack of political commitment have been singled out as the main barriers to the elimination of hepatitis globally by 2030, in a final report presented to the Viral Hepatitis Forum at the 2018 World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) in Qatar.
The Forum, chaired by Burnet Institute Deputy Director Professor Margaret Hellard, addressed the challenges of achieving the goal set by the World Health Organization in 2016 of eliminating viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030.
The report, co-authored by Burnet researchers Dr Alisa Pedrana, Dr Jess Howell, Sophia Schroeder, Dr Nick Scott, Professor David Wilson, Dr Christian Kuschel, and Professor Hellard, makes six recommendations to stimulate investment in viral hepatitis elimination, including:
Raising the profile of viral hepatitis elimination and building political commitment through global, regional, national and local forums that engage affected communities, healthcare professionals and the broader community
Increasing access to low-cost diagnostics and treatment through advocacy, international support, private partnerships and community mobilization, and
Strengthening health systems, including improving workforce skills and investments in technology and surveillance systems.
The authors note that with effective testing and treatment options, the potential exists to meet the WHO goal, but barriers remain, in particular, limited financial and political support.
In presenting the report to the Forum, Professor Hellard said it’s important for political leaders, including Ministers for Health and Finance, to understand that they are part of the solution to hepatitis elimination.
“To eliminate viral hepatitis we can’t treat them as separate from other diseases,” Professor Hellard said.
“They need to be embedded into agendas for sustainable development and Universal Health Coverage.”
An estimated 320 million people globally are affected by hepatitis B and hepatitis C, which cause liver inflammation due to a viral infection spread by blood or other fluids.
Viral hepatitis results in the deaths of more than 1.3 million people globally each year.
The Viral Hepatitis Forum at WISH 2018 was one of nine research forums each led by an internationally renowned expert in their field.
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