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EASL makes a statement for the liver at 71st Session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe

17 September 2021

On 14 September 2021, EASL, in its role as non-state actor in official relations with the World Health Organization (WHO), provided a joint statement on matters of considerable importance in liver care: primary health care and keeping viral hepatitis elimination clearly on the agenda.

This 71st session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe (RC71) converged around delivering the WHO European Programme of Work 2020–2025 (EPW) – “United Action for Better Health in Europe”, which was adopted in 2020.  

EASL’s statement, co-endorsed by the European Cancer Organisation, the Thalassemia International Federation and the World Federation of Chiropractic, falls under agenda item: Reinventing primary health care in the post COVID-19 era 

In our statement, we recall how the last year marked by the COVID-19 pandemic has hindered the progress on viral hepatitis elimination and increased the risk of developing cancer of the liver. We note that in 2020, there was an overall decline in the screening and diagnoses of chronic viral hepatitis, assessed by the number of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) and hepatitis B (HBV) tests performed, consultations undertaken, and new treatments provided.

Address by the WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the 71st session of the Regional Committee for Europe

Address by Her Royal Highness, The Crown Princess of Denmark to the 71st session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe

Statement by Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, to the 71st session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe

It is crucial that EASL, as a non-state actor in an official relationship with the World Health Organization, takes an active role in the discussion on global public health. WHO leadership are essential to tackling liver disease. Only together, will we achieve ambitious goals such as eliminating viral hepatitis,

said Prof. Maria Buti, Professor of Medicine at the Internal Medicine and Hepatology Department, Hospital General Universitari Valle Hebron, Barcelona, and EASL’s EU Policy Councillor, and Chair of EASL’s Policy and Public Health Committee.

An excerpt of the joint statement reads: 

EASL welcomes the draft resolution on primary health care and would like to reiterate the crucial role of primary health care towards the elimination of viral hepatitis. We urge WHO to ensure that needed investments are made. A strong primary health care is the foundation of effective health systems that deliver essential and routine health care services to avoid preventable illnesses and deaths. To achieve HBV and HCV elimination by 2030, the support of a strong primary health care system with effective screening, prevention, early diagnosing and treatment practices will be essential.  

EASL has two specific asks:  

    1. Support investments in primary health care as we recover from COVID-19, governments must prioritise investments in PHC. 
    2. Support that viral hepatitis elimination remains a priority on the political agenda. 
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