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National Academies Report Charts Course to Elimination of Hepatitis B and C in U.S.

Summary: 
A new report from the National Academies makes recommendations for eliminating hepatitis B & C in the U.S. by 2030, complementing National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan.

Like you, we had been waiting for this day to arrive for some time.  The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (National Academies) has released their new report that lays out a plan for how hepatitis B and hepatitis C could be eliminated as public health threats in the United States by 2030. The report, A National Strategy for the Elimination of Hepatitis B and C, is a follow-up to their April 2016 report that concluded that elimination is feasible, but achieving them “would take considerable will and resources.” 

The new consensus report by an expert panel convened by the National Academies examines what is necessary to eliminate hepatitis B and C as public health problems in the United States. It identifies goals and specific actions that would allow us to reach those goals by 2030. This is not a blueprint for how to make the most efficient use of current resources. The report describes what could be achieved if resources were not an issue. In this way, the report gives us the National Academies’ vision of what might be possible by 2030 if there was sufficient cooperation, commitment, and resources from all sectors of society.

Established by Congressional charter in 1863, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine.

We want to recognize and thank the sponsors of this report for their leadership and vision in making this report happen. The National Academies’ report was sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Viral Hepatitis and Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, the HHS Office of Minority Health, the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.

We also want to express our appreciation to the staff, consultants, and panel of experts who did the hard work to review the available evidence and determine how the nation might reach the 2030 goals established for this report. The National Academies selected and convened a panel with considerable expertise from a variety of backgrounds including experts in public health, health care providers, modelers and academicians, and state, national and global leaders in infectious disease policy and program development.

The elimination strategy described in the National Academies’ report is comprised of 13 specific recommendations for diverse stakeholders including the federal government, specific government agencies (i.e., HHS, CDC), states, professional medical societies, public and private health plans, and the criminal justice system. The recommendations cover five areas:

  • Public health information,
  • Essential interventions,
  • Service delivery,
  • Financing for elimination activities, and
  • Research.

We support and share the vision of elimination of viral hepatitis as a public health threat in the United States. In fact, this vision is the ultimate goal of the National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan, 2017-2020 (Action Plan). We hope that the evidence-based and carefully researched recommendations in the National Academies’ report will stimulate thought, discussion, and action that will ultimately improve our nation’s ability to fight viral hepatitis, reduce disparities and deaths, and improve the lives of people living with viral hepatitis.

The report is a valuable resource for ongoing planning and program improvement across the federal government and within the Viral Hepatitis Implementation Group. This group, which is coordinated by the HHS Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, worked collaboratively to develop and is now coordinating implementation of the Action Plan. We will begin discussing these new expert recommendations from the National Academies in early April at the group’s next meeting.  The group will assess how the new recommendations align with the Action Plan, consider what recommendations can and should be implemented immediately with existing resources, and whether any updates should be made to the current Action Plan as well as how the recommendations should be used to inform the next update to the Action Plan that will take us beyond 2020. Work on the next update is expected to begin in 2019.

Next month, the CDC Foundation-supported Viral Hepatitis Action Coalition is hosting the Summit for the Elimination of Hepatitis B and C as Public Health Threats in the United States. Designed to foster further collaborations among stakeholders dedicated to achieving HBV and HBC elimination goals for the United States, Summit participants will discuss the Academies’ report as well as model programs and practices that support implementation of its recommendations.  Details on how to participate via webcast are provided on the summit’s webpage.

This is a landmark report that we know will benefit many people. We are very much looking forward to reading and to thinking about how the National Academies’ report might help us to further improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and impact of our own work and federal responses to viral hepatitis in the United States.

 

New Viral #Hepatitis Report from the @theNASEM describes actions needed to end public health problem by 2030: http://bit.ly/2neLZ1V

 

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