~Written by Caity Jackson (Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Today, viral hepatitis kills more people than HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, or malaria and has become the 7th major cause of death globally. Despite this, hepatitis has not received the same global attention as the other illnesses it shares the Top 10 global killer list with. The President of the World Hepatitis Alliance Charles Gore noted in his plenary speech ‘‘we felt honestly, neglected.” Neglected they are not today.
Walking into the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Center (SECC), one could feel the energy and urgency in the crowd. The first ever World Hepatitis Summit brought together a group of patients, NGOs, academics, and government officials that have long awaited their time in the spotlight. The Summit’s three-day meeting came in response to last year’s World Health Assembly Resolution calling for concerted action to reverse the ever-rising death toll from viral hepatitis. It serves as the beginning of a series of summits focusing on information sharing and “how we can scale up and not waste the precious resources we know are limited” said Gore. Those at the summit are passionately working towards increasing awareness about viral hepatitis, focusing on the draft WHO Global Health Sector Strategy on Viral Hepatitis which aims to reduce new cases of chronic hepatitis B and C by 90%, reduce hepatitis B and C deaths by 65%, and treat 80% of eligible persons with chronic hepatitis B and C infections by 2030.
Because viral hepatitis has been neglected for so long (viral hepatitis was not included in the Millennium Development Goals) much needs to be done rapidly to make up for lost time. In that context, the Summit, intended as an annual event, will focus on the public health approach to viral hepatitis and become the central forum for countries to share their experience and best practices in order to drive rapid advances in national responses. The inaugural World Hepatitis Summit made history; an effort everyone hopes will lead to reducing the burden on those afflicted by viral hepatitis.
For the full press release please visit the WHO Media centre
For another perspective, please visit the BioMed Central Blog