World Hepatitis Day 2023

28 July 2023

One Life, One Liver

We’ve only got one life, and we’ve only got one liver. Hepatitis can devastate both.

In the Western Pacific Region, an estimated 116 million people are living with hepatitis B and 10 million with hepatitis C – the most common causes of liver cirrhosis, liver cancer and viral hepatitis-related deaths in the Region.

Under the theme, “One Life, One Liver,” this year’s World Hepatitis Day will highlight the importance of the liver for a healthy life, and the need to scale up viral hepatitis prevention, testing and treatment to optimize liver health, prevent liver disease and achieve the 2030 hepatitis elimination goals.

In the Western Pacific Region, there are 3 million new hepatitis B and C infections every year, and most are going undetected. Most symptoms only appear once the disease is advanced, making it a silent disease with serious consequences. Despite the availability of effective and safe interventions to diagnose, treat and prevent chronic hepatitis B and C, only 18% of people living with hepatitis B in the Region have been diagnosed and 5% have received treatment. For hepatitis C, 25% of people have been diagnosed and 10% have received treatment.

The Region has made significant progress in controlling hepatitis B through national vaccination programmes – 90% of infants received 3 doses of the hepatitis B vaccine in 2021, up from 49% in 2000. As a result, the Region has met the 2020 target of reducing the prevalence of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) to below 1% in children under age 5 and is currently on track to achieve the next global targets of 0.5% for 2025 and 0.1% for 2030.

Nevertheless, major vaccine coverage gaps remain in some countries and more hepatitis cases – and deaths – can also be prevented through vaccines, and other effective prevention modalities such as safe injection, safe blood transfusion and harm reduction, as well as therapies or cures for hepatitis B and C.

With COVID-19 no longer a global health emergency, now’s the time to prioritize a hepatitis-free world and meet the global 2030 targets. Continued success in reducing hepatitis B infections in children proves that progress is possible. However, we urgently need simplified primary care services for viral hepatitis to ensure that:

  • 90% of people living with hepatitis B and C get diagnosed.
  • All pregnant women living with chronic hepatitis B have access to treatment and their infants have access to birth vaccines to prevent infection.
  • 80% of diagnosed people are cured or treated according to newer expanded eligibility criteria.

Call to actions:

  • Public: You only have one liver – seek out access to hepatitis tests, treatment and cure, accessible through all health services.
  • Global leaders: Champion liver health by expanding hepatitis treatment and testing, as fundamental to universal health coverage.
  • National leaders, especially those in highly affected countries: Take liver health seriously and expand access to hepatitis testing, treatment and cure closer to home.

Source: Who Web