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World Hepatitis Summit

Published: 2 Sep 2015 00:01

Policy makers and patient groups gather in Glasgow.

Patients, policy-makers and experts from around the world are gathering in Glasgow to discuss global efforts to tackle viral hepatitis.

The first World Hepatitis Summit at the SECC gets underway today (2 September). The three day gathering is a World Hepatitis Alliance and World Health Organisation event hosted by the Scottish Government and supported by Health Protection Scotland and Glasgow Caledonian University.

Patient groups, Government Ministers, policy-makers and public health experts are attending the inaugural meeting, which is the world's first 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 in Glasgow today shows, for the first time, the five year incremental increase in global deaths from viral hepatitis. Viral hepatitis now kills more people than HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria and has become the seventh biggest annual killer globally.

The Summit will discuss the draft WHO Global Health Sector Strategy on Viral Hepatitis. By 2030, the strategy aims to achieve a 90 per cent reduction in new cases of chronic hepatitis B and C and a 65 per cent reduction in hepatitis B and C deaths.

Today also sees 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.

The Framework includes the Scottish Government's commitment to the elimination of hepatitis C as a public health concern in Scotland, and also sets increased annual treatment targets for hepatitis C in Scotland.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said:

"I am delighted that Scotland is once again opening its doors to the world to host the first ever World Hepatitis Summit. I can think of no better location than a country which has been recognised as a world leader in our approach to tackling hepatitis C.

"The innovation of new therapies for hepatitis C is a watershed moment for viral hepatitis, and we have recognised the importance of this by increasing our national treatment targets for the disease. We must also not lose focus on the vital issue of prevention of disease. Scotland will continue to invest in prevention initiatives and this must be a central part of any national and international plan.

"There also couldn't be a better time to launch our updated Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus Framework. I am pleased to say that Scotland is committed to eliminating hepatitis C as a public health problem within Scotland – something that I am proud that we can realistically commit to achieving only because of the foundation work we have laid over the past ten years."

President of the World Hepatitis Alliance Charles Gore said:

"We already have almost all the tools needed to eliminate viral hepatitis. What we don't have yet is the commitment, the know-how and the funding to use these tools. This Summit is about empowering countries to take the practical steps needed at a national level; it is about how to take a vision and make it happen."

Director of the WHO Department of HIV/AIDS and Global Hepatitis Programme, Dr. Gottfried Hirnschall said:

"We have seen from the global response to HIV what can be achieved when governments, civil society, international organizations and the private sector work together to provide prevention and treatment services to those who need them. The time is now for everyone to come together and work toward eliminating viral hepatitis as a major global killer."

Dean of the School of Health and Life Sciences at GCU, Vincent McKay 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."

Notes to editors

About Viral Hepatitis

Viral hepatitis is inflammation of the liver caused by a virus. There are five different hepatitis viruses, hepatitis A, B, C, D and E.

All of these viruses cause short term, or acute infection. However the hepatitis B, C viruses can also cause long-term infection, called chronic hepatitis, which can lead to life-threatening complications such as cirrhosis (liver scarring), liver failure, and liver cancer. Viral hepatitis kills 1.4 million people every year.

About the draft Global Health Sector Strategy on Viral Hepatitis, 2016-2021

The strategy builds on the current WHO Framework for Action on Viral Hepatitis (2012) and the 2010 and 2014 World Health Assembly resolutions on viral hepatitis. It is closely aligned with the post-2015 health and development agenda and targets, the drive towards universal health coverage, as well as with related global health strategies and plans, including those for HIV, sexually transmitted infections, blood safety and non-communicable diseases.

The draft strategy sets out an ambitious set of targets to greatly reduce new infections and deaths from viral hepatitis by 2030 and to provide a corresponding coverage of prevention and treatment interventions to make this happen.

About The World Hepatitis Summit 2015

The World Hepatitis Summit provides a unique platform to strengthen the hepatitis community voice, assist countries in developing national hepatitis action plans and to raise the global profile of viral hepatitis. As a platform to improve the creation and implementation of action plans through sharing of best practice, the World Hepatitis Summit will directly support the WHA67.R7 resolution.