Hep-CORE reports on hepatitis B and C policies in UK and rest of Europe

Posted on: 15th January 2017

In 2016 the British Liver Trust took part in a European-wide, patient-led viral hepatitis study monitoring the implementation of hepatitis B and C policy recommendations in Europe.

2016 was a year of remarkable progress in the fight against viral hepatitis. With the World Health Organization’s introduction of the first-ever global health sector strategy on viral hepatitis, stakeholders in all regions of the world began to rally around the global goal of eliminating viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030.

Europe however had not been monitored as a whole since its inclusion in the WHO global hepatitis policy report of 2013, which was followed up by a 2014 global community response report.

As the monitoring and evaluation framework of the WHO hepatitis strategy is not expected to be operationalised until 2018 at the earliest, the European Liver Patients Association (ELPA) commissioned the Hep-CORE study in 2016 to shed light on the policy response to hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) in Europe.

A research team based at the Barcelona Institute of Global Health (ISGlobal), Hospital Clínic, University of Barcelona and CHIP, Rigshospitalet, the University of Copenhagen carried out the study on ELPA’s behalf by engaging with ELPA member organisations. 

The research team invited one ELPA group or coalition of groups in each country where ELPA is represented (as well as Denmark) to complete a 39-item survey that asked about key aspects of the response to HBV and HCV in their countries. Survey topics included national coordination, disease monitoring, prevention, testing and treatment. Respondents representing 27 countries (25 in Europe, 2 others from Mediterranean Basin) completed surveys, and the data that they submitted provide the basis for the final report.

At the end of last year, the European Liver Patients' Association published the results of the study, which highlighted the need for policies and strategies to deal with viral hepatitis in EU countries.

The UK was one of thirteen countries that reported having a written national HBV and/or HCV strategy, one of only five to report that it addresses Hepatitis B prevention at a subnational level in all regions (the other four being Denmark, France, Slovenia and Turkey), and one of only four that addresses Hepatitis C prevention at a subnational level in all regions (the other three being Denmark, Slovenia and Turkey).

Fifteen countries (56%) including the UK reported not having a Ministry of Health (or equivalent) working group for viral hepatitis and no national laws that protect people against discrimination based on their HBV/HCV status.

To read the full report, click here