Close to 3 million access hepatitis C cure

9 Mar 2018 Bridie Taylor

On 8 March 2018, WHO launched the "Progress report on access to hepatitis C treatment" which is an update on the first edition, published in 2016. It reviews the progress countries have made in expanding access to life-saving DAAs.

The report reviews the progress made in expanding access to life-saving treatment for hepatitis C infection in 23 low- and middle-income countries. It also provides information from innovator and generic manufacturers and multiple partner organizations working in the field of viral hepatitis.

The key findings of the report are as follows.

  • Globally, the annual number of people initiating direct-acting antiviral medicines (DAAs) to cure hepatitis C has increased from around 1 million in 2015 to 1.5 million in 2016. This brings the overall number of people accessing DAAs for HCV to almost 3 million.
  • Access to hepatitis C treatment is increasing, quite rapidly in some countries – but this access is focused primarily in a few high-burden countries.
  • To fast-track progress, we need more country leadership and more countries committing to the elimination of hepatitis C.
  • A great number of countries need to seize the opportunity to procure the more affordable generic DAAs, which have become available through voluntary licensing or local production.
  • We need to join forces to unblock the price barriers in upper-middle- and high-income countries, which are home to 38% of all people with chronic hepatitis C infection.
  • We need to rapidly scale up access to hepatitis testing, as most people with hepatitis C remain unaware of their infection, let alone the need and chance to be cured.

In addition, the report reviews the main challenges countries face and describes recent developments in relation to five key factors that determine access to DAA medicines: affordability, quality assurance, regulatory approval, government commitment and financing.

It’s an important update for the hepatitis community and should be used to highlight key areas of action for ministries of health and other government decision-makers, pharmaceutical manufacturers and technical partners. We urge all hepatitis advocates to use this data to support advocacy efforts and to reaffirm the importance of increasing access so that all people living with hepatitis C can benefit from life-saving treatments.

The new report, key messages and associated materials are available on WHO website: www.who.int/hepatitis/en/ and http://www.who.int/medicines/en/