World Hepatitis Day: Fast-Tracking Hepatitis Testing and Treatment Worldwide


To mark World Hepatitis Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) is urging leaders, policymakers, and healthcare providers in the South-East Asia Region and around the world to speed up testing and treatment for hepatitis. This year’s theme is “One life, one liver,” emphasizing that everyone deserves a chance to live a healthy life.

Globally, around 354 million people are living with chronic hepatitis B and C, and each year, about 1.1 million people die from complications related to hepatitis, like liver cirrhosis and cancer. Sadly, many people with hepatitis don’t even know they have it, which is why it’s often called the “silent killer.”

Thankfully, safe and effective vaccines can prevent hepatitis B, and antiviral drugs can manage chronic hepatitis B and cure most cases of hepatitis C. But to achieve these goals and eliminate hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030, we need to make sure everyone has access to timely testing.

In the South-East Asia Region, about 20% of all hepatitis-related deaths occur, with hepatitis B and C being the main culprits. Around 60 million people have chronic hepatitis B, and about 10.5 million have chronic hepatitis C. Shockingly, almost half a million new hepatitis B and C infections occur in the region each year, which is about one infection every minute.

While some progress has been made, there is still a lot of work to be done. Many people who are eligible for treatment don’t even know their status, and access to treatment for both hepatitis B and C is still limited.

To improve access to testing and treatment, WHO is calling for action in several important areas. First, policymakers should include hepatitis testing and treatment as part of essential primary healthcare services. It should be made accessible within communities, close to where people live and work, and covered under universal health coverage.

Second, leaders should reach out to and engage vulnerable and high-risk communities, as well as people from all walks of life. Building on the success of HIV initiatives, a “Nothing for us, without us” approach should be followed.

Third, healthcare providers, including the private sector, should integrate services for hepatitis, HIV, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) to make them more efficient and reduce gaps.

Fourth, funding for these diseases should be allocated strategically based on current disease burdens to have the greatest impact.

Our targets may be ambitious, but they are achievable. By 2030, we aim to reduce new chronic hepatitis infections by 90% and hepatitis mortality by 65%. Together, we can eliminate hepatitis as a public health threat and work towards healthier livers and healthier lives for all. On World Hepatitis Day, WHO stands with all countries in the South-East Asia Region to make rapid, strategic, and fair progress toward this goal.

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