News

Lancet Commission on viral hepatitis

Burnet Institute

09 January, 2019

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A new Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology Commission on viral hepatitis has identified Asia as the global region bearing the heaviest burden, and most in need of an effective response if ambitious World Health Organization (WHO) targets for hepatitis elimination are to be met.

Burnet Deputy Director Professor Margaret Hellard, Co-Head Hepatitis Research Dr Joe Doyle, EC Partnership Co-ordinator Dr Alisa Pedrana, and Research Fellow Dr Jess Howell contributed to the Commission, which was convened to appraise the current global situation and identify key interventions needed to accelerate progress.

Analysis for the Commission found that 20 countries account for more than three-quarters of the global burden of viral hepatitis, which kills an estimated 1.34 million people every year, comparable to mortality from other major infectious diseases including HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis or malaria.

“An effective response in these countries is crucial to achieve WHO elimination targets calling for a global reduction in hepatitis-related mortality of 65 percent and a 90 percent reduction in new infections by 2030,” the Commission found.

“The Asian region is home to 11 of the most heavily burdened countries and accounts for approximately 70 percent of viral hepatitis-related deaths globally.

“This region stands out in terms of the disease burden and the need for an invigorated response.”

While acknowledging the positive impact of new highly effective prevention measures and treatments, the Commission believes much more is urgently required to scale up testing for the estimated 290 million individuals who remain undiagnosed, including:

  • Innovative financing to ensure elimination programs are fully-funded by 2020
  • Improved access to affordable high-quality diagnostics
  • Simplified models of care to obviate the need for specialised prescribing
  • Sustained efforts to tackle stigma and discrimination
  • A shift in focus from individual patients to a coordinated public health approach
  • The development of national programs adapted to national settings.

“The tools are available now to tackle viral hepatitis and there are many examples of them being used to good effect throughout the world,” the Commission notes.

“With sustained and coordinated effort, the WHO elimination targets are achievable.”

Click here to read, ‘Accelerating the elimination of viral hepatitis: a Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology Commission’, and find out more about Burnet’s hepatitis research.

Contact Details

For more information in relation to this news article, please contact:

Professor Margaret Hellard

Deputy Director (Programs); Adjunct Professor, Monash University, DEPM.

Telephone

+61385062304

Email

margaret.hellard@burnet.edu.au

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