New Report Calls for Universal Vaccination for Hepatitis to Reduce the Crippling Economic Burden of the Disease

Vienna, July 28 2016 – To coincide with World Hepatitis Day, a new report1, commissioned by United European Gastroenterology (UEG), calls for all European countries to adopt universal vaccination and harmonised screening programmes for hepatitis, as well as improved neonatal screening, to help speed up the eradication of the disease.

Almost 30 million people in the EU suffer from a chronic liver condition2, one of the primary causes of which is hepatitis infection. Many of those with a chronic liver condition will have suffered since childhood and will require a lifetime of care at considerable economic cost.

“Paediatric liver disease is becoming increasingly common in young children and, more importantly, chronic liver diseases in children represent a rising problem, with significant effects on public health and economic burden throughout Europe”, explains UEG liver expert, Helena Cortez-Pinto. “We urgently need to find a cost effective solution to control the spread of hepatitis and reduce the socio-economic burden of the disease and medical opinion suggests that the best solution in the current environment would be the adoption of universal vaccination for hepatitis B, and screening of high-risk groups”.

Although the incidence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection has declined significantly since the implementation of universal immunisation programmes in several countries, several member states still do not carry out routine childhood vaccination programmes and a significant number of children are still infected each year. In addition, there is no vaccine yet against Hepatitis C and infection rates continue to rise in Europe, with diagnosis rates rising by a third in England3 and considerably higher rates being recorded in southern Europe, including Italy, Romania and Spain4. Both viruses not only cause severely impaired quality of life and developmental delay5 but also carry significant risk of cirrhosis and cancer.

The European Liver Patients’ Association (ELPA), warns of the financial impact of liver disease, specifically hepatitis, in their “White Paper Project – the socio-economic burden of hepatitis in Europe” and urges policy makers to consider that early screening and prevention would actually help save EU resources in the long-term.

In support of World Hepatitis Day, the World Hepatitis Alliance launches its new campaign ‘#NOhep’ which aims to eradicate viral hepatitis by 2030. The Alliance estimates that more than 7 million lives could be saved worldwide by 2030 if universal vaccination programmes were introduced. For further information, go to worldhepatitisday.org/.

Notes to Editors

About UEG
UEG, or United European Gastroenterology, is a professional non-profit organisation combining all the leading European societies concerned with digestive diseases. Together, its member societies represent over 22,000 specialists, working across medicine, surgery, paediatrics, gastrointestinal oncology and endoscopy. This makes UEG the most comprehensive organisation of its kind in the world, and a unique platform for collaboration and the exchange of knowledge. Find out more by visiting www.ueg.eu

To advance standards of gastroenterological care and knowledge across Europe and the world, UEG offers numerous activities and initiatives, including:

  • UEG Week, the biggest congress of its kind in Europe, and one of the two largest in the world.
    NOW OPEN FOR PRESS REGISTRATION
  • UEG Education, the universal source of knowledge in gastroenterology, providing online and classroom courses, a huge online library and delivering the latest GI news, fostering debate and discussion
  • Training Support, funding for innovative training and educational programmes, as well as international scientific and professional co-operations
  • UEG Journal, published bi-monthly, covering translational and clinical studies from all areas of gastroenterology
  • EU Affairs, promoting research, prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of digestive diseases, and helping develop an effective health policy for Europe

 About World Hepatitis Day
Organised by The World Hepatitis Alliance to eradicate hepatitis. For further information on the Alliance visit www.worldhepatitisalliance.org.

References

  1. United European Gastroenterology. Paediatric Health Across Europe. 2016
  2. European Liver Patients Association. 2005 [cited; Available from: http://www.elpa-info.org/]
  3. Public Health England. 2013
  4. ECDC – Hepatitis B and C. Current situation in the EU/EEA
  5. El-Shabrawi MH, Kamal NM. Burden of Pediatric hepatitis C. World J Gastroenterol. 2013 Nov 28; 19 (44): 7880-7888

Contact Information
For further information about the UEG report, UEG’s activities relating to hepatitis or to speak to a paediatric liver expert please contact Luke Paskins at UEG on +44 (0)1444 811099 or email media@ueg.eu

Media Contact:
Press & Media Officer
Luke Paskins
United European Gastroenterology (UK Office)
Email: media@ueg.eu
Tel: +44 (0)1444 811099

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