Speaker: Dr Isabelle Andrieux-Meyer
MSF welcomes WHO’s health sector strategies on HIV and viral hepatitis. We urge member states to rapidly implement WHO’s recommendation to provide antiretroviral therapy to all people living with HIV upon diagnosis.
The benefits of doing so are enormous. Immediate provision of treatment can reduce the risk of people developing life-threatening opportunistic infections. For countries to implement the WHO guidelines, there must be adequate financial and programmatic support, especially for low-coverage countries that otherwise risk being left behind.
Test and treat as a simplified strategy can facilitate accelerated scale-up of ART in low coverage countries as well as in conflict and emergency settings.
In such settings, test and treat is feasible and should be considered part of the package of care. Although such contexts are challenging, this is no excuse for inaction. Test and treat saves lives. But only if countries implement it.
Reducing inequalities in access to diagnostics and treatments for viral hepatitis will be pivotal in achieving ambitious targets to eliminate it as a public health threat by 2030.
- We urge WHO and Member States to commit and provide resources to implement the Global Health Sector Strategy on Viral Hepatitis and endorse it at the sixty-ninth WHA.
- The Global Fund, Gavi, PEPFAR, and other major donors should engage in the implementation of the Global Health Sector Strategy, following the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
- The elimination of viral hepatitis as a major public health threat by 2030 will only happen if fundamental political decisions are taken and implemented: ambitious hepatitis B immunisation programmes; proactive action against high prices for life-saving drugs; reduction of the unacceptable regulatory time lag for the registration of new drugs in low- and middle-income countries; the refusal of any unethical anti-diversion policies; and universal access to low-cost quality-assured diagnostics and generics.