On the eve of World Hepatitis Day, the United Nations health agency released a study that reveals efforts to eliminate the disease are gaining momentum globally.

“It is encouraging to see countries turning commitment into action to tackle hepatitis,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Identifying interventions that have a high impact is a key step towards eliminating this devastating disease,” he added, noting that many countries have succeeded in scaling-up the hepatitis B vaccination and now the task is to increase access to diagnosis and treatment.

New WHO data from 28 countries representing some 70 per cent of the global hepatitisburden reveals that nearly all have established high-level national hepatitis elimination committees and more than half have allocated dedicated funding for hepatitis responses.

Findings also show that more than 86 per cent of the countries reviewed have set national hepatitis elimination targets and more than 70 per cent have begun to develop national hepatitis plans to enable access to effective prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care services. Furthermore, nearly half of the countries surveyed are aiming for elimination through providing universal access to hepatitis treatment.

But WHO is still concerned that progress needs to speed up. “The national response towards hepatitis elimination is gaining momentum. However, at best one in 10 people who are living with hepatitis know they are infected and can access treatment. This is unacceptable,” said Gottfried Hirnschall, WHO’s Director of the HIV Department and Global Hepatitis Programme.