It’s important that we stay up to date on all the causes our Patient Influencers are fighting for.
We have an amazing group of Hepatitis Influencers who we know are out there trying to forge ahead the best possible health care landscape for patients.
Patient Influencers like, Karen Hoyt, named a top 2015 Healthline Best Hepatitis C Blogger, Lucinda Porter, who’s written 2 Hepatitis C books, and Connie Welch, who was a HealtheVoices 2016 Patient Advisor.
Today we bring you a guest post from Raquel Peck, CEO of the World Hepatitis Alliance on some exciting news!
Elimination Of Global Killer Within Arm’s Reach
By Raquel Peck, CEO of the World Hepatitis Alliance
A decade worth of advocacy efforts, awareness raising and highlighting the global impact of viral hepatitis could pay off this week as WHO Member States will make the most important decision on hepatitis to date.
At the 69th World Health Assembly in Geneva (23 – 28 May), 194 countries will decide whether to adopt the WHO’s first ever Global Health Sector Strategy for Viral Hepatitis (GHSS). The strategy represents a pivotal moment for viral hepatitis as it sets a goal of eliminating hepatitis B and C by 2030. To achieve elimination, the strategy outlines a set of prevention and treatment targets which, if reached, will reduce annual deaths by 65% and increase treatment to 80%, saving 7.1 million lives globally by 2030.
With vaccines and effective treatments for hepatitis B and a cure for hepatitis C now available, elimination of viral hepatitis is feasible and achievable. The only thing standing in our way is political commitment.
Viral hepatitis is one of the most significant public health threats of our lifetime, with 10 million new infections and 1.4 million deaths each year, globally. Despite this, the disease suffers from a remarkable lack of awareness and political priority. The adoption of such strategy should be a no-brainer (after all, we have vaccines and effective treatments for hepatitis B and a cure for hepatitis C making elimination possible) but greater political will and recognition are needed to scale up interventions.
Last year a key step was taken when governments of the world adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which included a target of combating viral hepatitis. Although this signaled a much needed commitment, hepatitis still remains hugely under-recognised compared to other disease areas and this is made clear in the SDGs, in which commitments were made to end HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria and merely combat hepatitis. In response, the hepatitis community convened at the World Hepatitis Summit 2015 and endorsed the Glasgow Declaration on Viral Hepatitis, calling on governments to develop and implement comprehensive national hepatitis plans to drive action toward the elimination of viral hepatitis.
We, the hepatitis community, must convene again as we approach a landmark moment in the history of viral hepatitis.
We are calling on governments to support the adoption of the strategy and its targets. If governments reject the strategy, they will be perpetuating the neglect hepatitis has been subject to for years and turning their backs on saving 7.1 million lives. They will also be ignoring one of the key commitments of the SDGs, which is that no one should be left behind, a commitment so apt for people living with viral hepatitis, many of whom are marginalised in one way or another. It’s time we properly address viral hepatitis and rid the world of these cancer causing agents that burden so many people, once and for all!
Raquel Peck is the CEO of the World Hepatitis Alliance (WHA), an international umbrella organisation of more than 230 hepatitis groups which she helped to establish in 2007 because viral hepatitis had been inexplicably neglected for so long. Before being appointed CEO, Raquel worked as the International Relations Director for WHA and was part seconded to the World Health Organization (WHO) after the Global Hepatitis Programme was established to help the team in Geneva with their communications strategy. Previously to this she was employed as a Public Relations Coordinator for the only UK national charity dedicated to hepatitis C – The Hepatitis C Trust. Follow her on Twitter @RaqPeck