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Progress Towards Elimination of Viral Hepatitis: a Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology Commission Update

The top 20 highest burdened countries (in disability-adjusted life years) account for more than 75% of the global burden of viral hepatitis. An effective response in these 20 countries is crucial if global elimination targets are to be achieved.

In an update of the Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology Commission on accelerating the elimination of viral hepatitis, the authors convened national experts from each of the top 20 highest burdened countries to provide an update on progress. Although the global burden of diseases is falling, progress towards elimination varies greatly by country.

By use of a hepatitis elimination policy index conceived as part of the 2019 Commission, they measured countries’ progress towards elimination. Progress in elimination policy has been made in 14 of 20 countries with the highest burden since 2018, with the most substantial gains observed in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Japan, and Russia. Most improvements are attributable to the publication of formalised national action plans for the elimination of viral hepatitis, provision of publicly funded screening programmes, and government subsidisation of antiviral treatments.

Key themes that emerged from discussion between national commissioners from the highest burdened countries build on the original recommendations to accelerate the global elimination of viral hepatitis. These themes include the need for simplified models of care, improved access to appropriate diagnostics, financing initiatives, and rapid implementation of lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the full Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology Commission here.

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Accompanying comments, published in The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology: