AbstractScientific advances and breakthroughs, coupled with global solidarity and commitment, have reversed the trend for most communicable diseases but not for viral hepatitis, an infection that is preventable and yet continues to exact a large toll on human lives. Chronic hepatitis B and C claim almost 1.34 million lives each year globally. In the South-East Asia Region, viral hepatitis led to 410 000 deaths in 2015, more than all deaths due to HIV and malaria put together. With 49 million people estimated to be chronically infected with hepatitis B and C, the number of deaths will only increase if our response to viral hepatitis is not strengthened and scaled up. To tackle viral hepatitis, Member States of the WHO South-East Asia Region have endorsed the Global Health Sector Strategy on Viral Hepatitis (2016–2021). In line with this global commitment, the WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia has developed a Regional Action Plan for Viral Hepatitis 2016–2021. The attached working paper was presented to the High-Level Preparatory (HLP) Meeting for its review and recommendations. The HLP Meeting reviewed the paper and made the following recommendations for consideration by the Seventieth Session of the Regional Committee: Actions by Member States (1) Develop national action plans based on the disease burden and cost-effective interventions as per serosurvey/surveillance data. (2) Focus on gaps in the hepatitis B birth dose coverage to ensure at least 95% coverage by 2020.(3) Ensure that injection safety and other infection-control measures in health-care settings are implemented. Actions by WHO (1) Support Member States in the development and implementation of their national action plans. (2) Support Member States in ensuring access to quality drugs for the treatment of hepatitis C at affordable prices through sharing of information on pricing, and facilitating negotiations through the South-East Asia Regulatory Network. (3) Support and facilitate innovations in the diagnosis of hepatitis B and C, particularly laboratory support for testing and monitoring. (4) Support the development of regional and national systems for surveillance and data management to monitor indicators in real time. (5) Support Member States in increasing community awareness regarding the prevention and control of hepatitis, involving the Goodwill Ambassador for Hepatitis in the South-East Asia Region. This Working Paper and the HLP Meeting recommendations are submitted to the Seventieth Session of the WHO Regional Committee for South-East Asia for its consideration and decision.
World Health Organization. Regional Office for South-East Asia. (2017). Hepatitis. World Health Organization. Regional Office for South-East Asia. http://www.who.int/iris/handle/10665/258548