MISSING leadership by WHO Director Dr Margaret Chan

Test and treat Hepatitis C now!

Director-General Chan, in 2010, the Executive Board of the World Health Assembly tasked you with mobilizing political will and adequate resources for an effective response to the global viral hepatitis pandemic.

New hepatitis C virus (HCV) drugs coming out of the pipeline have demonstrated cure rates of up to 100%; the hepatitis C virus could feasibly be eradicated from the planet. Without World Health Organization (WHO) at the helm, this prediction will remain unattainable.

Since 2010, more than a million people have died from HCV although it is treatable and curable. Three to four million people are newly infected each year, although HCV is preventable. Most new infections occur among people who inject drugs, yet less than 4% of them have sufficient access to clean injecting equipment. This shocking public health failure allows the epidemic to continue spreading.

Only a tiny fraction of the 185 million people who have HCV are aware of it. Most live in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) and have no access to diagnostics, care, or treatment. Pegylated interferon (PEG-IFN), backbone of the current standard of care for HCV, is priced cruelly out of reach. Where there is access to HCV treatment, people who inject drugs are often denied it: merely 2-4% of people who inject drugs access treatment.

People who inject drugs who want to be treated for HCV are often forced to stop their drug use or enter an opioid substitution therapy (OST) program. Neither of these stipulations are justifiable on clinical grounds, but are forms of discrimination that stem from the moral judgment of people who inject drugs. People who are currently injecting or in an OST program respond as well to HCV treatment as those who are not.

The World Health Organization must act to increase global access to HCV diagnostics and treatment, in particular for people who inject drugs, by:

  • Speaking out frequently on the need for rights-based harm reduction services including needle and syringe programs (NSP), OST and integrated hepatitis C treatment on a scale that will reverse the HCV epidemic among PWID as recommended by WHO/UNAIDS/UNODC.
  • Providing technical support to countries to create access to affordable, high quality, effective and safe biosimilar and alternative pegylated interferon products.
  • Creating clear guidance on HCV screening and testing that explicitly recommends screening for people living with HIV, in whom HCV progresses rapidly, and in people who inject drugs.

Many countries are prepared to address their HCV epidemics, and we, people living with HCV and our advocates, are ready to be actively involved in the development of national plans to prevent and control HCV. Countries are waiting for WHO guidance in key areas that will empower us all to move forward.

You must not fail your mandate. We implore you to demonstrate true leadership through the mobilization of political will and the necessary resources to combat the global HCV epidemic.

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  • Fatimata Ball

    Remap+ (reseau mauritanien des personnes vivant avec le VIH )

    Mauritania

  • FATIME NGOUA HADJE

    Hopital de la Mère et de l'Enfant

    Chad

  • Fauzan Dony

    Yayasan Kesehatan Bali

    Indonesia

  • Favaro Jamie

    INJECTION DRUG USERS HEALTH ALLIANCE

    United States

  • fdez souto alberto

    comite ciudadano antisida de lugo

    Spain

  • Fdez Sánchez Antonio

    Spain

  • Feffer Richard

    Hepatitis Education Project

    United States

  • fehst norbert

    Aidshilfe Aachen

    Germany

  • felez jordi

    Institut Català de la Salut

    Spain

  • Fernandes Aparecida

    grupo abcvida

    Brazil

  • fernandez lamazares VANESSA

    Spain

  • FERNDALE CLINT

    HEPATITIS QUEENSLAND Inc

    Australia

  • Fernánde Corte Teresa

    Spain

  • Fernández de Casas Julia

    Spain

  • Fernández Moreno Juan

    ASSCAT

    Spain

  • Fernández romero Rafael

    Asscat

    Spain

  • Ferri Mario

    Health Care Advocate

    United States

  • Ferrier Claire

    Hepatitis Victoria

    Australia

  • Figa Francesch Montserrat

    Hospital Dr. Josep Trueta

    Spain

  • figna Garcia Claudia

    Spain

  • Filipiak Maciej

    Poland

  • Fischer Christiane

    United Kingdom

  • Fisher Bev

    Canada

  • Flemming Xander

    OUT LGBT Well-being

    South Africa

  • Fleta Candial Belén

    Spain

  • Fleutelot Eric

    Sidaction

    France

  • flexer rosy

    United Kingdom

  • flor flor

    grupo esperanza y vida

    Uruguay

  • Flore Ngalamou

    Positive-Generation

    Cameroon

  • Flores Rodriguez Julio

    Mexico

  • Flores Rodriguez Julio

    Mexico

  • Flynn Vicki

    United States

  • Flynn Jennifer

    Health GAP

    United States

  • Foguito Fogué

    Positive-Generation

    Cameroon

  • Folsom Saoirse

    Berkeley Needle Exchange Emergency Distribution

    United States

  • FONTANILLA PARRA JOSE ANTONIO

    "FONTANILLA, ABOGADOS"

    Spain

  • Font Marginet Eva Maria

    Spain

  • Forette Chloe

    Médecins du Monde

    France

  • Forrest Erin

    Syringe Access Services, SFAF

    United States

  • Forseth Kirsten

    New York Medical College

    United States

  • FORSHEY Bonnie

    United States

  • FORSHEY ANTHONY

    United States

  • Forshey Bonnie

    United States

  • Forwood Suzy

    self

    United States

  • Foster Shari

    United States

  • Fournier Sandrine

    France

  • France Tim

    Inis Communication Ltd.

    Thailand

  • franche mathilde

    aides

    France

  • Franciscus Alan

    HCV Advocate

    United States

  • franck girard

    act up paris

    France