Who we are
The Global Hepatitis Programme is WHO's dedicated unit for responding to the viral hepatitis epidemic. The unit sits within the Department of HIV/AIDS and works to spearhead evidence-based, normative policy support to Member States in the scale up of hepatitis prevention, testing, treatment and care services. It aims to ensure a comprehensive and sustainable response to viral hepatitis with particular focus on low- and middle-income countries.
What we do
The Global Hepatitis Programme provides evidence-based, normative and policy support to Member States in scaling up hepatitis prevention, testing, treatment and care services to enable a comprehensive and sustainable response to viral hepatitis in developing countries.
Where we work
The Global Hepatitis Programme is located in WHO headquarters in Geneva, working in close cooperation with other departments. It also coordinates WHO's hepatitis activities conducted through units at regional and country offices.
Our guiding policies and strategies
About viral hepatitis
Viral hepatitis B and C is a leading infectious killer, yet the majority of global leaders and the public remain unaware. Viral hepatitis B and C affect 325 million people worldwide, leading to about 1.4 million deaths a year. It is the second major killer infectious disease after tuberculosis, and 9 times more people are infected with hepatitis than HIV. Deaths from hepatitis have been increasing over the past 2 decades, which points to a lack of global awareness and action, including among top decision-makers.
Despite this situation, much can be done: hepatitis can be prevented, diagnosed, treated and managed well. The hepatitis B vaccine is 98-100% effective in preventing new infections. For hepatitis B, people should be tested and if found positive and eligible, provided with lifelong treatment. For hepatitis C, people can be cured with a simple 2-3 month treatment with direct acting antiviral (DAA) drugs.
However, most of the people living with hepatitis - over 80% - lack access to testing or treatment. At the same time, people are becoming newly infected due to a lack of prevention services. In 2017, 1.1 million people were newly infected and developed chronic hepatitis B infection and 1.75 million people developed chronic hepatitis C infection.
Achieving hepatitis elimination by 2030 will require a major increase in funding for hepatitis prevention, testing and treatment services as part of achieving universal health coverage (UHC). A new WHO costing analysis underlines that an additional funding of US$ 6 billion per year will be needed in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) between 2016 and 2030, in order to achieve hepatitis elimination targets.
Countries need to ensure that national hepatitis testing and treatment plans include dedicated funding and investments. Greater progress is possible when countries invest in hepatitis testing and treatment services. Investing in hepatitis is a smart decision for broader health outcomes.
WHO provides technical assistance to help countries translate its guidelines into policies and programmes, from immunization to antiviral therapy, from screening the blood supply to ensuring safe health-care practices.