The World Health Organization (WHO) has released its first-ever hepatitis C treatment guidelines based on reviews of the best and latest scientific evidence.
Burnet’s Head of the Centre for Population Health, Professor Margaret Hellard and infectious diseases physician, Dr Joseph Doyle contributed to the development of the guidelines by conducting reviews and compiling evidence.
According to WHO, hepatitis C affects an estimated 130 to 150 million people and causes up to 500,000 deaths a year.
These guidelines are aimed at helping countries to improve treatment and care for hepatitis and as a result, reduce deaths from liver cancer and cirrhosis.
There are nine key recommendations including approaches to increase the number of people screened for hepatitis C infections, advice as to how to mitigate liver damage for those who are infected, and how to select and provide appropriate treatments for chronic hepatitis C infection.
“Eliminating hepatitis C is an ambitious but achievable goal; new treatments will kick start this process, but it needs a strategic approach, in partnership with people who have or are at risk of hepatitis C infection,” Professor Hellard said.
“We need a sustained and multi-pronged approach – and the time to start is now.”
WHO will be working with countries to introduce the guidelines as part of their national treatment programs, including making new treatments available and considerations of all possible avenues to make them affordable for all.
It will also assess the quality of hepatitis laboratory tests and generic forms of hepatitis medicines.