World Hepatitis Day 2021 in Europe
A summary of World Hepatitis Alliance members’ World Hepatitis Day activities in the WHO European region
Celebrating World Hepatitis Day in Europe
Despite restrictions on movement and large gatherings, World Hepatitis Alliance (WHA) members in the WHO EURO region were able to effectively raise awareness online and in the media. Some members were still able to hold scaled-back and socially-distanced educational, testing and vaccination events, and others looked for opportunities to raise awareness through large-scale public campaigns.
About hepatitis and the World Hepatitis Alliance in the WHO EURO region
More than 25 million people are affected by chronic viral hepatitis in Europe, with 14.4 million people living with hepatitis B and more than 11 million living with hepatitis C1. Europe has the second-highest coverage of the hepatitis B birth dose vaccine in the world at more than 70 per cent1. Yet, more than 90,000 people die as a result of viral hepatitis or related complications in the region each year1.
The World Hepatitis Alliance has 67 members across 35 countries in the WHO EURO region. These members work tirelessly to advocate for hepatitis elimination, to raise awareness, and to deliver testing and vaccination services in a range of contexts. You can find out more about them on the World Hepatitis Alliance’s website.
1 Data: CDA Foundation’s Polaris Observatory; 2021 [updated on 1 September 2021], Accessed 1 September 2021
- The WHO Regional Office for Europe urged leaders to take action now to eliminate hepatitis by 2030.
- The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) published its 2019 annual epidemiological reports for hepatitis B and C.
- The Substance Misuse Outpatient Unit (SMOPU) within the Foundation for Social Welfare Services of Malta aims to decrease transmission of the viral disease and reduce mortality for infected persons.
- Seville announced its aim to be the first Spanish city to eliminate hepatitis C.
- The Hep C Partnership and Professor Jack Lambert claimed in an interview that Ireland’s target to eliminate the virus is more than 20 years behind schedule.
- The British Liver Trust urged cocaine users to get tested for hepatitis C.
- The Health services of Jersey, an Island part of the UK, offered hepatitis test to the whole population at the General Hospital as part of World Hepatitis Day.
Member Activity: Austria
Hepatitis Hilfe Österreich (HHÖ)
HHÖ commemorated World Hepatitis Day by promoting the ‘Hepatitis Can’t Wait’ campaign in Austria.
They engaged with national policymakers to raise awareness of the urgent need for action on viral hepatitis, with the Health Minister Dr. Wolfgang Mückstein providing a World Hepatitis Day 2021 video statement to the HHÖ with a message that “Together we can end hepatitis by 2030”.
In addition, HHÖ published a statement from Dr. Gottfried Hirnschall, a health expert and former director of the WHO HIV and hepatitis programme, calling for quick action on hepatitis in Austria.
Member Activity: Bulgaria
Member Activity: Croatia
Croatian Society for Liver Diseases (Hepatos)
On the occasion of the World Hepatitis Day, Hepatos provided hepatitis C testing and liver examination with a Fibroscan® device in its InfoHep Center in Split. They also launched the ‘Hepatitis Can’t Wait’ campaign locally, reminding stakeholders that in order to stay on track to eliminate viral hepatitis, even during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is necessary to continue to provide testing, treatment and care services and try to avoid setbacks and retain the hard-won momentum in hepatitis elimination.
In addition, Hepatos published a press release outlining the current hepatitis statistics in the country and the threat the COVID-19 pandemic poses to hepatitis elimination locally. They also participated in this year’s global virtual relay.
Member Activity: France
SOS Hépatites Federation
Member Activity: Germany
Deutsche Leberhilfe e.V. (German Liver Patients Association)
The German Liver Patients Association took part in the ‘Hepatitis Can’t Wait’ campaign and published a series of press releases outlining different aspects of viral hepatitis and calling for urgent action on elimination.
The press releases focused on the topics of hepatitis C treatment, prevention of mother to child transmission of hepatitis B, the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on hepatitis services and the need for strong political leadership to achieve elimination.
Member Activity: Ireland
GOSHH Ireland marked World Hepatitis Day by promoting the ‘Hepatitis Can’t Wait’ message locally to urge all stakeholders to prioritise making hepatitis C treatment available to all people living with it in the country. They shared stories of people living with hepatitis C and encouraged others to come forward for free testing.
GOSHH joined many organisaitons around the world to take part in WHA global virtual relay.
Hepatitis C Partnership
The Hepatitis C Partnership celebrated World Hepatitis Day with a ‘Hepatitis C Can’t Wait’ campaign advocating for hepatitis C elimination in Ireland. They shared stories of people affected by hepatitis C and put up advertisements raising awareness of hepatitis C curative treatments in collaboration with GOSHH.
The Hepatitis C Partnership also took part in WHA global virtual relay.
Member Activity: the Netherlands
Nederlandse Leverpatiënten Vereniging (Dutch liver patients association)
The Dutch Liver Patients Association marked the day by promoting ‘Hepatitis Can’t Wait’ messages in the Netherlands, encouraging local policymakers to act now to eliminate hepatitis in the country by 2030. They shared campaign messages about hepatitis treatment, prevention and the need for political action on their social media channels.
Member Activity: North Macedonia
Hepar Centar Bitola
This World Hepatitis Day, Hepar Centar Bitola and the Minister of Health of North Macedonia signed the first national declaration for liver cancer in North Macedonia. The declaration outlines the parties commitment to provide the most appropriate and timely diagnosis, therapy and monitoring of viral hepatitis as one of the main risk factors for the development of liver cancer.
Hepar Centar Bitola also celebrated the day online on social media, and took part in WHA global virtual relay and the NOhep ‘Point to the time’ activation.
Member Activity: Russia
Saint-Petersburg Charitable Fund “Humanitarian Action”
To mark World Hepatitis Day Saint-Petersburg Charitable Fund “Humanitarian Action” participated in this year’s global virtual relay.
Member Activity: Serbia
Hepatitis Hilfe celebrated World Hepatitis Day by joining WHA global virtual relay.
Member Activity: Turkey
Turkish Liver Foundation
To mark World Hepatitis Day, Turkish Liver Foundation hosted a webinar entitled “Where are we in the Viral Hepatitis Elimination Program?” at which treatments for hepatitis B, C and D were discussed. The meeting was attended by Prof. Dr. Yılmaz Çakaloğlu, Prof. Dr. Cihan Yurdaydi N, Prof. Dr. Fehmi Tabak, Prof. Dr. Ramazan İdilman and Prof. Dr. Ahmet Gürakar.
They have also prepared an educational video in collaboration with the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality in order to raise awareness of World Hepatitis Day. The video was broadcast on public transport in Istanbul. The Turkish Liver Foundation worked with local authorities to light up monuments around the city yellow to commemorate World Hepatitis Day.
Additionally, the Turkish Liver Foundation and HEPYAŞAM Association submitted a joint video for the WHA global virtual relay.
HEPYAŞAM Association commemorated World Hepatitis Day with an online awareness-raising campaign under the ‘Hepatitis Can’t Wait’ theme. They produced a number of promotional and educational materials including posters, social media graphics and videos.
They also submitted a joint video together with the Turkish Liver Foundation for the WHA global virtual relay.
Member Activity: United Kingdom
Hepatitis C Trust
On July 28, a range of leading UK politicians partnered with the Hepatitis C Trust to express their support for this year’s World Hepatitis Day. Public Health Minister Jo Churchill, Scottish Public Health Minister Maree Todd and First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford have each reiterated their Governments’ commitment to achieving the elimination of hepatitis C, while opposition politicians have highlighted the action needed to ensure elimination is achieved.
The Hepatitis C Trust also delivered pop-up testing in sites across the country to raise awareness of hepatitis C.
Metro Charity leveraged World Hepatitis Day to encourage their community to come forward for free hepatitis C testing. They also stood with ‘Hepatitis Can’t Wait’ campaign and participated in the global virtual relay.