Every year, on 28 July, the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners mark World Hepatitis Day to increase awareness and understanding of viral hepatitis and the diseases it causes. The day unites patient organisations, governments, medical professionals, civil society, industry and the general public to boost the global profile of viral hepatitis. This year, the WHO will focus on the theme: ‘Test. Treat. Hepatitis’ affirming that timely testing and treatment of viral hepatitis B and C can save lives.
Speaking ahead of the occasion, EMCDDA Director Alexis Goosdeel says: ‘Transmitted through the sharing of needles, syringes and other injecting equipment, hepatitis C is the most common infectious disease among people who inject drugs in Europe. Failure to address HCV infection in this group will mean considerable costs in the future, both to individuals and to health budgets. I believe that we now have an opportunity to make real and sustained progress in this area. By combining treatment with adequate prevention and harm-reduction measures, including scaling up HCV testing to reach the undiagnosed, we have the necessary tools to control the epidemic. Through its Strategy 2025, the EMCDDA contributes to a healthier Europe by promoting the delivery of such responses’.
The elimination of hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030 — namely a 90% reduction in new infections and a cut in mortality of 65% over the 15-year period leading up to 2030 — are core targets of the first Global health sector strategy on viral hepatitis 2016–2021, endorsed by the World Health Assembly in 2016.