World Hepatitis Summit strives for hepatitis elimination

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The first World Hepatitis Summit, hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Hepatitis Alliance in Glasgow, Scotland this week, is focusing on encouraging nations to create national programs with the goal of eliminating viral hepatitis.

Hepatitis B and C are responsible for 80 percent of deaths caused by liver cancer, and many people who have chronic viral hepatitis do not know that they have the infection.

“We know how to prevent viral hepatitis, we have a safe and effective vaccine for hepatitis B, and we now have medicines that can cure people with hepatitis C and control hepatitis B infection,” Dr. Gottfried Hirnschall, director of the WHO’s Global Hepatitis Programme, said. “Yet access to diagnosis and treatment is still lacking or inaccessible in many parts of the world. This summit is a wake-up call to build momentum to prevent, diagnose, treat -- and eventually eliminate -- viral hepatitis as a public health problem.”

Approximately 400 million people have viral hepatitis. An estimated 1.45 million people die from the illness every year, placing viral hepatitis among the top causes of death in the world.

“This summit is about empowering countries to take the practical steps needed at a national level,” Charles Gore, president of the World Hepatitis Alliance, said. “It has brought here to Scotland patient groups and civil society from across the world to support countries in doing this. We can eliminate viral hepatitis as a major global killer, but we must all work together to make that vision a reality.”

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World Health Organization

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