The first global health sector strategy on viral hepatitis, a strategy that contributes to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It covers the first six years of the post-2015 health agenda, 2016–2021, building on the Prevention and Control of Viral Hepatitis Infection: Framework for Global Action, and on two resolutions on viral hepatitis adopted by the World Health Assembly in 2010 and in 2014. The strategy addresses all five hepatitis viruses (hepatitis A, B, C, D and E), with a particular focus on hepatitis B and C, owing to the relative public health burden they represent.
Approved by Member States at the sixty-sixth session of the WHO Regional Committee in 2015, the regional action plan for viral hepatitis in the Western Pacific 2016–2020, provides a systematic approach to priority areas for action by countries to reduce the impact of viral hepatitis, with a focus on chronic hepatitis B beyond immunization and hepatitis C. It was developed through extensive Member State and expert consultations.
The WHO Southeast Asia regional action plan builds on the previous strategy from 2011, which called upon Member States to prioritize viral hepatitis and strengthen surveillance to know the burden of disease and to respond. This original effort propelled a global momentum that culminated in the development of the Global Health Sector Strategy for Viral Hepatitis 2016–2021, which was endorsed by all Member States at the World Health Assembly in May 2016. This new regional action plan for Southeast Asia integrates newer science and information that has since become available.
This plan is structured around five strategic directions: 1) leadership, good governance and advocacy for a coordinated and integrated response; 2) information for focused action; 3) interventions for impact; 4) systems strengthening for equitable access; and 5) financing for sustainability. Under each of the strategic directions, specific actions need to be taken by countries and WHO. These actions will be implemented in a phased manner with different starting points for different countries, depending on the status of their response to viral hepatitis in 2016.