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09 Oct 2019

Hepatitis on Global Fund Replenishment Conference Agenda

For the first time, the Global Fund is putting viral hepatitis on the agenda of its Replenishment Conference after an advocacy campaign spearheaded by the Doherty Institute and the International Coalition to Eliminate Hepatitis B (ICE-HBV).

The Global Fund was established in 2000 to support programs in more than 100 countries to accelerate the end of HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria as epidemics.

Current projections are that by 2040 viral hepatitis will kill more people than HIV, TB and malaria combined, a sobering prediction that is already a reality in our own World Health Organization (WHO) Western Pacific Region.

Professor Benjamin Cowie, Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Viral Hepatitis at the Doherty Institute is one of six speakers at a special session dedicated to viral hepatitis elimination at the Global Fund’s 6th Replenishment Conference being held in Lyon, France on October 8, 2019.

The goal of the session is to highlight the potential public health impact of expanding viral hepatitis elimination programming, including strategic integrations with existing efforts to improve HIV care and prevention outcomes.

“The Global Fund has had a major impact in reversing the epidemics of HIV, TB and malaria, and while clearly more needs to be done to step up the fight against these major public health problems, the burden of disease has been dropping under the influence of major international programs, many supported by the Global Fund,” Professor Cowie said.

“With the exception of co-infection, viral hepatitis has largely been excluded from the Global Fund mission, meanwhile we continue to see an increase of lives being lost a result of viral hepatitis.

“This is no longer a situation which we feel is one that can be ethically observed without radical changes to the way we think about funding of the global viral hepatitis response, and that includes the Global Fund.”

Professor Cowie will present the global burden of viral hepatitis, focusing on the public health aspects, giving examples of countries that have moved forward in tackling this global health issue.

“Mongolia is a great example, despite having significant resource challenges, they are taking on viral hepatitis in a comprehensive way and are on track to meet the elimination targets set by the WHO,” he said.

“If we include viral hepatitis elimination to the package of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) under the Sustainable Development Goals, the price of UHC would rise by just 1.5% - but the impact is estimated to be a 5% drop in mortality and a 10% increase in healthy life years globally. Scaling up viral hepatitis elimination is both affordable, and could have a major impact on human health.”

“The Global Fund has been a revolution in its approach to tackling the burden of the communicable diseases that rank among the leading causes of human illness and death. But there is an urgent need to include viral hepatitis to this list so that the Global Fund can leverage the amazing work already funded to benefit the greater than 300 million people living with viral hepatitis.”

Professor Cowie joins a number of global leaders in viral hepatitis at the special session at the Global Fund Replenishment Conference to campaign for the disease to be considered for funding.

  • Dr Mehlika Toy, Asia Liver Centre, Stanford
  • Dr Yvan Hutin, WHO Geneva
  • Dr Christian Ramers, Senior Clinical Advisor on Viral Hepatitis
  • Jessica Hicks, Head of Programmes, World Hepatitis Alliance
  • Professor Massimo Levrero, Board Member, International Coalition to Eliminate HBV

The Doherty Institute has signed an open letter urging the Global Fund to integrate viral hepatitis with its existing HIV, TB and malaria programs. Follow this link if you would like to be a signatory.

 

World leaders and private funders led by French President Emmanuel Macron, raised $14 billion for the Global Fund to pursue efforts to fight HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. The pledges are close to 15 per cent higher than the fund raised in the previous three-year period.

Australia donated AUD$242 million.

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