In May 2016, at the World Health Assembly, 194 governments adopted the first-ever Global Health Sector Strategy on viral hepatitis and agreed to the first-ever global targets. The strategy includes a target to treat 8 million people for hepatitis B or C by 2020. The longer term aim is to reduce new viral hepatitis infections by 90% and to reduce the number of deaths due to viral hepatitis by 65% by 2030 from 2016 figures.
The drug using community often campaign on world Hepatitis day, because for our community, a large percentage will already have Hepatitis C and so issues around treatments, support, access to new drugs etc, are real and pertinent.
On WHD, there is of course the opportunity to focus solely on HCV, and on our community. By focusing on issues that are important where you live, such as access to the new HCV drug treatments, which are incredibly expensive, (although prices have begun to fall) you can utilise the might and the visibility of well supported WHO campaign for Hepatitis, and give it your own theme with HCV. Create a press release, link up with partner groups and organisations and of course, EuroNPUD and really draw some attention to your communities issue around hepatitis.
For example, the prices of these drugs are still horrifically expensive and that in itself has proven to be a strong campaigning point for many organisations, as it effectively stops thousands of people being able to have a lifesaving drug, and makes some doctors in some countries less willing to give treatment to someone who is still using drugs in case of bad adherence etc.
Every country is dealing with their Hepatitis (and HCV) issues differently and each country needs close examination of its strategy, if it has one.
Some countries, however, are finding ways to get services to the people who need them. These efforts are made easier by the declining price of hepatitis C medicines. Prices are now dropping, particularly in countries that have access to generic drugs. In 2015, a preliminary analysis estimated that 300 000 people living in low- and middle-income countries had received hepatitis C treatment based on the new direct-acting antivirals.
In Egypt – a lower–middle-income country with one of the world’s highest prevalence rates of hepatitis C – 200 000 people were treated during the past 12 months, and the price of hepatitis C treatment for each person dropped from US$ 900 in 2014 to less than US$ 200 in 2016. Other countries have stepped up efforts against hepatitis C. Brazil and Pakistan are already expanding treatment coverage rapidly, and Georgia has announced a plan to eliminate the disease.
On WHD 2016, NOhep was launched. A global grassroots movement, NOhep unites those working in the field of hepatitis and others from across the world around one common purpose: the elimination of viral hepatitis by 2030. NOhep showcases exemplary leadership, fosters on the ground innovative solutions and takes action to support the policy change needed to eliminate the cancer-causing illness by 2030.