Think NoHep this World Hepatitis DayPosted on by
“Viral hepatitis – a group of infectious diseases known as hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E – affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide, causing acute and chronic liver disease and killing more than 1.4 million people every year, mostly from hepatitis B and hepatitis C. It is estimated that only 5% of people with chronic hepatitis know of their infection, and less that 1% have access to treatment.” – World Health Organization
CDC’s vision is to eliminate viral hepatitis in the United States and worldwide. World Hepatitis Day – July 28, 2016 – is an opportunity to highlight the global burden of disease and our efforts to combat viral hepatitis around the world.
Viral hepatitis is the seventh leading cause of death worldwide, and causes more deaths than AIDS, tuberculosis, and even road injuries. After years of inattention, the substantial global burden of viral hepatitis is beginning to receive much needed attention. In May of this year, the first Global Health Sector Strategy on viral hepatitis of the World Health Organization was approved during the 69th World Health Assembly.
This new WHO strategy introduces the first-ever global targets for the elimination of Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C as public health threats. These targets include a 30% reduction in new cases of hepatitis B and hepatitis C, and a 10% reduction in mortality by 2020, and ultimately achieving even greater health impact by 2030. Key approaches to achieving these targets include:
- expanding vaccination programs for hepatitis B;
- preventing mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis B;
- improving injection, blood, and surgical safety;
- providing harm reduction services for people who inject drugs; and
- increasing access to diagnosis and treatment for hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
Many of these approaches are included in CDC’s five-year strategic plan for 2016-2020. The Strategic Plan is organized around four strategic imperatives, one of which is specific to our international efforts – “Act globally to prevent, detect, and control viral hepatitis.”
As of April 4, 2016, CDC has been redesignated as a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) Collaborating Center for Reference and Research on Viral Hepatitis. In this capacity, CDC will support implementation of WHO Global Hepatitis Strategy priority activities, working to achieve WHO global hepatitis goals, serve as a reference of laboratory to support priority requests of the WHO Global Hepatitis Program, and provide technical assistance for the development of WHO normative guidance such as viral hepatitis guidelines and policies.
A cornerstone of CDC’s global activities is the the assignment of CDC staff to WHO headquarters to lead the WHO Global Hepatitis Program. This program provides guidance and technical assistance to viral hepatitis control programs at the global, regional, and national levels. CDC’s global work also involves lending technical assistance to governmental and non-governmental entities as they develop hepatitis-related prevention policies and programs, respond to outbreaks, develop viral hepatitis surveillance, and monitor and evaluate these activities. For these efforts, CDC works with country-specific and global counterparts and partners, including local Ministries of Health and/or National Centers for Disease Control, other U.S. CDC programs, the United States Agency for International Development, the United States Department of State, and the World Health Organization (WHO).
In recent years, CDC has responded to requests for assistance from countries experiencing a high burden of viral hepatitis, including China, Egypt, Georgia, India, Pakistan, and Vietnam. This CDC programmatic assistance to other countries can reduce the burden of disease for travelers and among persons migrating to the United States while identifying best practices in viral hepatitis prevention and control that can serve as models for other countries including the United States. CDC is committed to continue working toward the elimination of viral hepatitis, both domestically and abroad. The viral hepatitis epidemic has detrimental impact on lives, communities, and health systems around the world. CDC and our global health partners need to act now in order to to make the elimination of viral hepatitis our next greatest achievement.
To learn more about viral hepatitis, please visit the CDC Viral Hepatitis website.