Global Hepatitis Resource Mobilization Conference
17 May 2023 | 9:00 – 16:30 Geneva, Hotel Intercontinental
The first Global Hepatitis Resource Mobilization Conference is a global call to action to boost financial and political commitment towards viral hepatitis elimination by 2030.
We are bringing together committed and new partners to raise funds for investments in key countries where catalytic investment would kick-start the implementation of a national plan or significantly accelerate it. We want to create a coalition of funders committed to hepatitis elimination that complements and synchronizes with the Global Fund against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, particularly to facilitate equitable access to drugs and diagnostics.
Venue: Hotel Intercontinental, Geneva, Switzerland
Date: 17 May 2023
Hosting Countries: The Arab Republic of Egypt and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Partners: The Hepatitis Fund, Clinton Health Access Initiative, Muslim World League
Advisory Committee: Co-hosts, partners and the Center for Disease Analysis Foundation, Red Cross Network, PATH, Treatment Action Group, World Health Organization, as well as industry partners.
Commitments: commitments from implementing countries and donors will be sought in advance to ensure the success of the pledging conference. Pricing commitments will also be explored with the private sector. Pledges have already been received from the Muslim World League and the ZeShan Foundation.
Co-financing: The Hepatitis Fund will only support projects that are strongly endorsed by the implementing country. THF will require matching/complementary funds to be invested either from domestic budgets or by another donor, such as the Global Fund (e.g., for commodity procurement).
Use of funds: The Hepatitis Fund will administer the funds raised and allocate them to in-country implementing partners. Within three years, each of the supported programmes will be required to demonstrate concrete outcomes and decisive measurable progress towards elimination. The Hepatitis Fund will monitor the use of funds and progress, and results will be disseminated to funding partners.
Target countries for catalytic investment: Low and lower-middle-income countries that have high viral hepatitis burden, political commitment to elimination, and existing health infrastructure (domestic and donor-supported) for implementing hepatitis programs.
The global burden of viral hepatitis
A deadly but neglected epidemic: An estimated 350 million people are living with chronic viral hepatitis infection – 295 million with hepatitis B (HBV) and 55 million with hepatitis C (HCV). More than 1.1 million people die every year from hepatitis B or C, and three million are newly infected. The burden of viral hepatitis is disproportionately higher in Africa, Asia, and Eastern Mediterranean regions. Despite this, viral hepatitis has been vastly under-prioritized and underfunded, leading to an unabated death toll. If not addressed, viral hepatitis deaths are projected to outnumber HIV, TB and malaria deaths combined by 20401.
A Sustainable Development Goal we can reach
In 2016, the world committed to the elimination of viral hepatitis by 2030 and endorsed successive World Health Organization (WHO) strategies, the second and latest in May 2022, on how to achieve it. Elimination of viral hepatitis is possible by 2030, as shown by the great strides made by countries such as Egypt, Rwanda and Mongolia. There are comparatively inexpensive WHO-pre-qualified generic drugs that cure HCV and treat HBV, thereby preventing liver disease and death, including liver cancer and cirrhosis. Tools to prevent new infections are well-established, including one of the world’s cheapest and most effective vaccines for HBV, birth dose vaccine and antiviral prophylaxis for pregnant women to prevent HBV vertical transmission, and harm reduction interventions for people who inject drugs to prevent HCV.
At the heart of the matter is money. The world is not making enough use of prevention and treatment tools, which means we are well off track to achieve elimination.
One major reason for this is a lack of financial investment in hepatitis by donors and countries. A lack of global donors to catalyse hepatitis programs has posed the biggest challenge for many countries. While there is some funding available through the Global Fund and Unitaid that has helped increase focus among key affected and priority populations in the context of ending AIDS (people living with HIV, people who inject drugs, pregnant women), investments have been marginal and insufficient to address hepatitis burden at scale. One hundred and twenty-four countries now have viral hepatitis elimination plans. Despite their formal commitment to eliminate hepatitis, many are not actioning that commitment, given the limited domestic health funding available. However, small-scale investments can create change. The first round of our grants has exceeded its expected outcomes. THF grants have supported the sustainable integration of hepatitis elimination services in existing health programmes (HIV, TB, Maternal and Child Health) in selected areas in Pakistan, Vietnam, and Zambia.
Our solution: Following discussions with governments, WHO and other global health partners, and our own experience with our initial grants, there is consensus that carefully targeted catalytic funding can galvanize governments to make the further domestic investments necessary to put them on the path to elimination.
More About The Hepatitis Fund Model
Mission: The Hepatitis Fund was established in 2019 to raise and channel the catalytic funding needed to kick start or accelerate the rollout of viral hepatitis elimination plans in promising candidate countries. Its unique expertise lies in being able to define, in collaboration with the hepatitis community, which investments will have a truly catalytic effect and then make, manage, and monitor those investments. It has already awarded one round of grants; preliminary results suggest that these investments are having the desired catalytic effect, creating change in relevant policies, building human resources capacity, and unlocking extra resources for hepatitis elimination.
Model: The Hepatitis Fund identifies, through a robust, transparent selection process, projects within areas of investment for which countries agree to co-fund programmes, ensuring their commitment and greatly increasing the likelihood that the funding will indeed be catalytic and lead to significantly increased follow-up investment. The Hepatitis Fund supports strong and committed implementation partners on the ground, with in-country track records and pre-existing relations with governments. The Hepatitis Fund incentivizes these partners to engage in hepatitis elimination by also brokering co-funding from other sources, including national resources and other global partners.
Governance: The Hepatitis Fund has a governing board consisting of viral hepatitis experts and a small, dedicated team of professionals. Its notably lean structure is designed to ensure that overheads are kept to a minimum, and funds raised go directly to further global elimination while ensuring their accountable use.