Hepatitis C virus is a major cause of liver disease worldwide with an estimated 80 million people chronically infected. To tackle this issue, the World Health Assembly adopted the first ‘Global Health Sector Strategy on Viral Hepatitis, 2016-2021’ in 2016. This strategy highlights the critical role of universal health coverage. The strategy’s vision is to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health problem, encapsulated in the global targets of reducing new viral hepatitis infections by 90% and reducing deaths due to viral hepatitis by 65% by 2030. The WHO European Region adopted the first-ever Action Plan for viral hepatitis in September 2016. The Action Plan follows the 2016 WHO Global Health Sector Strategy on viral hepatitis. It addresses viral hepatitis as a public health threat and aims to achieve these targets in the European Region by 2030.
The HSE’s National Hepatitis C Treatment Programme (NHCTP) was established in 2015, following a key recommendation from my Department’s 2014 Report, ‘A Public Health Plan for the Pharmaceutical Treatment of Hepatitis C’. The Programme is a multi-annual public health plan, which aims to provide treatment across a range of healthcare settings to all persons living with hepatitis C in Ireland. The National Programme's goal is to make hepatitis C a rare disease in Ireland by 2026.