Australia shines on viral hepatitis policy

Australia statistics Board pharmacists

We have one of the most comprehensive national hepatitis programs in the Asia-Pacific, survey finds

The Asia Pacific Viral Hepatitis Policy Survey released this week has revealed how prepared different governments across the region are to tackle chronic viral hepatitis.

Conducted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Centre for Global Health, the survey particularly analysed whether these governments are on track to eliminate the virus by 2030—a goal set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Of all 13 jurisdictions surveyed, 12 had a national or territory-wide strategy in place to address viral hepatitis.

The only one that didn’t was Hong Kong.

This is a great improvement from 2012, when just six jurisdictions had a national strategy.

Australia, Taiwan and Japan were found to have the most comprehensive national hepatitis programs.

In addition, Australia was one of only four jurisdictions with legal frameworks to protect people with hepatitis against discrimination.

It was one of only three countries to cover costs for people to be properly diagnosed, with most people in the remaining countries paying out of pocket for a diagnosis.

Australia was also one of only two countries that covered the cost of the new generation antivirals for hepatitis B and direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) for hepatitis C—the other country to do so was Taiwan.

However across the region, implementation of hepatitis strategies is still slow going, says the Centre for Global Health.

“If we want to eliminate hepatitis by 2030, it is extremely important to ensure people with chronic viral hepatitis are identified early, followed up regularly and begin treatment before they develop late-stage symptoms,” says infectious diseases expert Professor Tammy Meyers, who led the survey report.

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