The EMCDDA is working with its expert network on drug-related infectious diseases (DRID) on an ‘elimination barometer’ for viral hepatitis to help countries assess progress towards eliminating hepatitis C and B among people who inject drugs (PWID). This barometer is the focus of a new EMCDDA Technical report published today: Monitoring the elimination of viral hepatitis as a public health threat among people who inject drugs in Europe.
Following the 2016 Global health sector strategy on viral hepatitis, WHO-Europe produced an action plan in 2017 for the health sector response to viral hepatitis in the WHO European region. The goal is to achieve a reduction in the incidence of chronic HBV and HCV infections of 90% by 2030, and a reduction in mortality from chronic HBV and HCV infections of 65% by 2030 (compared to 2015).
The EMCDDA barometer complements these elimination initiatives with a specific focus on people who inject drugs. This new tool, designed to assess the epidemiological situation of hepatitis B and C in different countries, is divided into five areas (‘building blocks’): context and needs; inputs; prevention; testing and linkage to care; and impact. Each of these blocks includes a set of quantitative and/or qualitative indicators along with the corresponding WHO 2020 targets. For each of the five building blocks, the report provides a European overview (up to the last quarter of 2018) as well as corresponding country-specific data and case studies, illustrating national contexts and experiences. The data cover the EU, Norway and Turkey.
Findings ‘at a glance’
In its final recommendations, the report states that although having a national, well-funded hepatitis policy that is inclusive of PWID is not a sufficient condition for achieving the elimination targets, it is a necessary one. It also proposes the use of public health guidance documents to support the implementation of evidence-based infectious disease prevention methods.
In 2018, the EMCDDA launched a ‘hepatitis testing initiative’ to support countries in increasing access to hepatitis care through drug services, providing tools to assess the need for services; identify barriers to care; and develop a plan of action to improve the response to the virus. This is in line with its Strategy 2025, through which it contributes to a healthier and more secure Europe by promoting the delivery of such responses.
The EMCDDA will update the barometer on an annual basis with new data from its DRID network.
To mark World Hepatitis Day 2019, the EMCDDA launched a new set of hepatitis resources.