World leaders meet to move towards elimination of viral hepatitis

02 September 2015

Scottish Government Health Secretary Shona Robison

Scottish Government Health Secretary Shona Robison

  • Governments from around the world convene to agree on a road map towards elimination of viral hepatitis
  • Worldwide, viral hepatitis kills more than 1.4 million people a year, 4000 people a day, and more than 400 million people are chronically infected with hepatitis B or C

The first ever World Hepatitis Summit starts today (September 2), in Glasgow, at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC).

The World Hepatitis Summit is a joint World Health Organization (WHO) and World Hepatitis Alliance (WHA) event hosted by the Scottish Government and supported by Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) and Health Protection Scotland. It brings together policy makers, patients, civil society, physicians and representatives from each of the World Hepatitis Alliance’s 200 patient group organisations.

This three-day meeting comes in response to last year’s World Health Assembly Resolution calling for concerted action to reverse the ever-rising death toll from viral hepatitis. New Global Burden of Disease data being presented at the Summit today shows, for the first time, the five-year incremental increase in global deaths from viral hepatitis. It confirms the relentless year on year rise in the number of deaths. Viral hepatitis now kills more people than HIV/AIDS, TB, or malaria and has become the seventh biggest annual killer globally.

Hosted by the Scottish Government - widely recognised as having a world-leading approach towards the testing and treatment of hepatitis C - the three-day Summit will discuss the draft WHO Global Health Sector Strategy on Viral Hepatitis with its targets for 2030 that importantly pave the way for the elimination of viral hepatitis as a problem of public health concern and on the national action required to reach those targets. 

  • 90% reduction in new cases of chronic hepatitis B and C
  • 65% reduction in hepatitis B and C deaths
  • 80% of treatment eligible persons with chronic hepatitis B and C infections treated

Such ambitious targets will require governments to put in place national hepatitis strategies and the Summit will focus on providing countries with the necessary technical expertise with WHO-supported workshops on key elements of any strategy, including surveillance, effective prevention, access to treatment, scaling up service delivery and funding the response.

Charles Gore, President of the World Hepatitis Alliance; Dr Shin Young-Soo, Regional Director – Western Pacific, World Health Organization; Shona Robison, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport, Scottish Government; and Professor James Miller, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) will open the meeting.

The Summit also marked the launch of the Scottish Government’s updated Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus Framework, which outlines the progress made over the last four years in tackling viral hepatitis, HIV and sexual health issues. The updated Framework also identifies key emerging issues where more focus is now needed, including the availability of new, highly effective therapies for hepatitis C.

In association with NHS Health Protection Scotland, GCU researchers have led a broad programme of research on the burden of hepatitis C and interventions to prevent infection and associated disease, which provided the key evidence for the Scottish Government’s Hepatitis C Action Plan.

Vincent McKay, Dean of the School of Health and Life Sciences at GCU, said: “GCU is an international University for the Common Good, working collaboratively to deliver social benefit to the communities we serve. The University is delighted to support the Scottish Government, the World Health Organization and World Hepatitis Alliance in moving towards the elimination of viral hepatitis. As a University, we pride ourselves on our multidisciplinary and collaborative approach to addressing societal challenges with strategic national and international partners.”