No cause for celebration yet - more to do to stop hepatitis C deaths

In England deaths from liver disease related to hepatitis C fell by more than 16% between 2015 and 2017. As a result, England has achieved the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) target to reduce HCV-related mortality by 10% by 2020 three years early.

Australia also already achieved the WHO’s 2020 mortality target. Some might say that this is good news - but at Hepatitis Australia we don’t agree.  

Virtually every hepatitis C death occurs because the gold-standard treatment and care available in Australia did not reach the person that needed it in time. 

There is no cause for celebration - the deaths of 1,189 people in 2016-2017 is a national tragedy.  

The well-informed have already been cured, but it is clear from the ongoing downward trend in hepatitis C treatment initiations that a much greater level of assistance is required to reach and engage the remaining 150,000 people living with hepatitis C.

Our national target is to reduce hepatitis C attributable deaths by 65% by the end of 2022. Without further action to increase treatment uptake this national target will soon become unachievable - time is running out.

Some new visionary thinking alongside a good dose of political will is needed. To that end we were fascinated to hear about the innovative approach just announced by NHS Englandto find and treat people living with hepatitis C. We now look to the incoming Australian government to back innovations like this to drive the uptake of hepatitis C treatment, save lives and facilitate the elimination of hepatitis C as a public health threat, a legacy that any government can be proud of. 

 Helen Tyrrell

CEO – Hepatitis Australia