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WHO: Hepatitis treatment received a record number of patients

October 31, 2017

Access to treatment should be increased worldwide and cover 80% of patients by 2030.

Over the past two years, an unprecedented number of people, 3 million, had an opportunity to obtain hepatitis C treatment, and 4.5 million people began long-term treatment for hepatitis B. These data were published by the World Health Organization on the eve of the World Hepatitis Summit, scheduled on November 1-3 in Brazil.

According to WHO, in 2016 1.76 million people received treatment for hepatitis C for the first time, which is 1.1 million more than in 2015. In 2016, 2.8 million people commenced long-term hepatitis B treatment, which is significantly higher than in 2015 (1.7 million). However, these are just the initial steps: access to treatment must be increased worldwide and reach 80% coverage by the year 2030.

“Over the past 5 years, we have witnessed a nearly 5-fold increase in the number of countries developing national plans to eradicate viral hepatitis,” said Dr. Gottfried Hirnschall, Director of the HIV/AIDS Department and the Global Hepatitis Programme (GHP) of the World Health Organization.

“These results are very promising, showing that the eradication of hepatitis can become a reality,” he added.

Many countries contribute to a sharp decline in the cost of drugs for hepatitis, including through the use of generic drugs, which provides access to more people. However, funding remains a major obstacle: most countries do not have sufficient resources to finance key hepatitis prevention programs. Countries urgently need to increase the coverage of testing and the level of diagnosis of hepatitis B and C. As noted by WHO, due to vaccination against hepatitis B, the level of infection in children under the age of 5 years decreased in 2015 to 1.3% (from 4.7% prior to vaccination).

The forthcoming summit in Brazil aims to encourage as many countries as possible to take resolute action against hepatitis. This disease still claims more than 1.3 million lives each year and affects more than 325 million people

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