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The International Task Force for Disease Elimination Endorses Hepatitis B and C Elimination Goals

New Report: ITFDE convened to review the epidemiology of hepatitis B and hepatitis C, the effectiveness of prevention interventions, and additional elimination goals.

John Ward

Within the United States and globally, interest in viral hepatitis elimination is growing. The vision of the National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan, 2017 – 2020 (Action Plan) is to eliminate viral hepatitis. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the World Health Organization (WHO) have published viral hepatitis elimination goals for 2030. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the CDC Foundation built on this momentum by convening the Viral Hepatitis Elimination Sum­mit last April, prompting national and global health organizations to designate viral hepatitis elimination a priority.

In the summer of 2017, the 26th meeting of the International Task Force for Disease Eradication (ITFDE) convened with a top priority to review the epidemiology of hepatitis B and hepatitis C, the effectiveness of prevention interventions, and opportunities to build capacity for reaching the newly set global hepatitis B and hepatitis C elimination goals. Experts from across the globe shared their expertise on opportunities, challenges, and solutions related to the cost-effectiveness strategies, elimination programs, transmission prevention, intervention effectiveness, vaccines, and laboratory testing. By the end of the meeting, ITFDE endorsed fully the goals for the elimination by 2030 of HBV and HCV as global health threats. Five activities were identified during the meeting that would advance progress toward HBV and HCV elimination:

  1. Develop national/subnational elimination programs tailored for local burden of disease, health systems, and cultures;
  2. Engage communities in all aspects of planning and implementing an elimination program;
  3. Improve the quality of viral hepatitis surveillance and other sources of strategic information to raise awareness and guide program planning and evaluation;
  4. Develop partnerships to finance hepatitis elimination programs; and
  5. Develop a research agenda to spur innovations that improve program efficiency and effectiveness.

ITFDE recommended health equity be the guiding principle for countries and organizations to ensure key populations have equal opportunities for hepatitis B and hepatitis C elimination. The ITFDE report was recently published by WHO and can be found by clicking here

The ITFDE process was a unique opportunity to do an objective review of the merits of the global and U.S. elimination plans to determine how elimination programs can be most effective. The process clarified for me how the recommendations of ITFDE align with the goals and objectives of the Action Plan. The opioid crisis and resulting increases in HCV transmission related to injection drug use represents a formidable challenge to reaching the Action Plan goals for 2020. The nation has the potential to realize these goals, but reaching them by 2020 will require full implementation of the Action Plan, greater success in addressing opioid use disorders, and ongoing improvements in prevention and treatment. My conviction is firm that with sufficient capacity to implement a specific set of actions we can achieve the elimination goals for the United States and the world.

I would like to thank Dr. Dean Sienko, Vice President of the Carter Center, for enlisting the ITFDE to review of viral hepatitis elimination. The published report of the meeting provides a comprehensive summary of the proceedings and the ITFDE recommendations. I encourage you to take a look. If you would like to share your thoughts, you are welcome to drop me a line at [email protected].

The @CarterCenter’s International Task Force for Disease Eradication reviewed the epidemiology of #hepB & #hepC, making it a global effort to eliminate viral #hepatitis. Read more via @HHS_ViralHep: https://go.usa.gov/xnJEg

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