MONDAY, JUNE 18, 2018

World Health Assembly approves hepatitis resolution

The World Health Assembly recently approved a resolution to improve diagnosis and treatment of viral hepatitis as well as new proposals to combat non-communicable diseases.

The resolution noted the importance of screening and protecting certain people, including those who inject drugs, from hepatitis infection. The delegates also agreed to examine ways to expand access to affordable and effective hepatitis testing and treatments, while protecting intellectual property rights of those who develop medicines or diagnostic products.

The delegates directed the WHO secretariat to help countries develop strategies and goals for fighting hepatitis and regularly report on their progress. The resolution also highlighted the importance of expanding hepatitis A and B vaccination programs.

The delegates also approved nine indicators to measure the success of fighting non-communicable ailments including cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. A high-level meeting of the U.N. in July will review the progress on those diseases, and delegates asked the WHO secretariat to report on that meeting at the next Assembly.

Viral hepatitis kills more than 1.4 million people worldwide every year, and approximately 500 million live with the disease. Types B and C together are the most common cause of liver cirrhosis and cancer.

The World Health Assembly is the decision-making body of the WHO.