Global Hepatitis Resource Mobilization Conference
17 May 2023 | 9:00 – 16:30 Geneva, Hotel Intercontinental
The first Global Hepatitis Resource Mobilization Conference represented a global call to action to boost financial and political commitment towards viral hepatitis elimination.
The first Global Hepatitis Resource Mobilization Conference, organized by The Hepatitis Fund and the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), took place in Geneva on 17 May 2023.
The event gathered an international audience of over 100 participants representing a range of stakeholders engaged in hepatitis elimination, including community leaders, governments, industry partners, donors and global health institutions.
The agenda included remarks by Chelsea Clinton, Professor Michel Kazatchkine, Dr Tedros and representatives from the two host countries, the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
During the first part of the day, the audience had the opportunity to hear first-hand testimonies from community leaders and to learn more about the investment case for hepatitis elimination.
Representatives of the health ministries of Cambodia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia joined a session during which they presented their respective efforts around hepatitis elimination.
Pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies joined a lively session on the role of the industry, which ended with a series of ground-breaking announcements (listed below). That session was followed by a programmatic commitment by global health institutions, including the Global Fund, Unitaid, USAID and FIND. The session ended with Brazil, Nigeria and Pakistan announcing country domestic commitments.
- The Ministry of Health provides diagnostic and treatment to all the population.
- The government released a new decree for an inter-ministry action to reach the population.
- Pledge to provide technical support to the PAHO countries and countries of Portuguese language and expand it to BRICS countries.
Canton of Geneva
- The Canton confirmed its financial support for a three-year project on the elimination of vertical transmission in Rwanda.
- Help countries with data management, IT and technical support, and lab strengthening.
- Support African countries with medication, affordable diagnostics, technical support for education and training both on-site and in Egypt for the management of advanced liver disease and for creating an existing programme and infrastructure.
- Provide treatment for HCV at $160 USD.
- Allocate domestic resources for the Federal hepatitis elimination programme of five years to province for a total of 260 USD$ million for testing and treatment.
Viatris and Hetero
- Pledged to reduce the price of hepatitis C (HCV) and hepatitis B (HBV) treatments to enable more people to access life-saving medication.
- Sofosbuvir and daclatasvir, a 12-week once-daily oral treatment for HCV, will now be offered at US$60 per patient course of treatment.
- Tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF), a once-daily tablet taken for life for HBV, will now be sold at US$2.4 per 30 tablets, less than $29 per year.
By dramatically reducing the cost of treatment in low- and middle-income countries, these commitments will substantially reduce the level of funding required to achieve elimination.
- Continue to provide via their global access programme access to concessional pricing for both HBV and HCV molecular tests and the GeneXperts systems.
- Extend the all-inclusive offer (instrument, services, and test) at a defined, transparent price.
- Via PPP (public-private partnership extend the global access concessional pricing to the private sector laboratory networks
- Provide transparent, all-inclusive pricing to eligible countries.
- Continue to report and communicate key performance indicators to ensure the supply timely maintenance and support of their instruments.
- Pursuing WHO prequalification for viral hepatitis products
Center for Disease Analysis Foundation
- Pledge to match the first 10,000 USD in donations at the conference. THF collected 20,000 USD$.
- Pledge their financial support to The Hepatitis Fund’s headquarters’ operations for two million USD$ for a period of two years.
Further donor commitments are expected to be announced in the upcoming months.
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.