- A new World Economic Forum paper outlines steps for countries to tackle viral hepatitis, one of the world’s leading infectious killers
- An estimated 1.1 million people die from hepatitis B and C globally every year, even though effective treatments exist
- The paper uses Egypt as a case study – the country has gone from the world’s highest hepatitis infection rates to near elimination – to demonstrate how the disease can be defeated
- Read the report here
Viral hepatitis currently affects over 300 million people globally. Despite the scale of the problem, it is one of a few major endemic diseases that could be eliminated by 2030. The World Health Organization estimates that 4.5 million deaths could be averted in the next nine years alone if countries scale up hepatitis elimination campaigns. Egypt’s unprecedented campaign – in which 60 million people were screened and 4 million successfully treated – offers vital lessons that could inspire and inform global eradication efforts.
“Hepatitis C is a disease that can be beaten,” said Shyam Bishen, Head of Health and Healthcare, World Economic Forum, and one of the co-authors of the report. “We can screen and diagnose for it, we can cure it. There is a strong business case for nearly every country in the world and Egypt has shown that even the highest-burden countries can make incredible progress in a very short timeframe with enough political commitment.”
Besides the sheer scale of its treatment drive, other critical components of Egypt’s success include increased affordability of and access to treatments, steadfast political support and creative cooperative partnerships between a range of key stakeholders – from both the public and private sectors to international organizations and local non-profits.
One of the stakeholders that played a crucial role in this campaign was Pharco Pharmaceutical, an Egyptian company and key contributor to some of the insights in the paper. Sherine Helmy, CEO of Pharco, said: “Hundreds of thousands of people die each year from hepatitis C, yet there is an affordable cure. To eliminate hepatitis as a public health threat, it is imperative that we start screening, diagnosing and curing hepatitis C now. At Pharco, we consider it our duty to promote early detection and to supply highly effective, safe and affordable medicine to cure hepatitis C.”
The World Economic Forum will continue to work with partners from across the hepatitis community to find ways to support countries to deliver on their plans to eliminate the disease. By bringing together public, private and non-profit stakeholders, the Forum aims to unlock new financing and design public-private partnerships to help eliminate the disease as a public health threat. The new paper supports these efforts by outlining a series of practical steps that could make hepatitis elimination a reality.
“Ultimately, there are many major health challenges that cannot yet be overcome,” said Bishen. “But viral hepatitis is not one of them. The world has everything it needs to eliminate the disease. It is clear now that we just need the will to do it.”