WHO mission assesses response to viral hepatitis in Kyrgyzstan
Responding to a request from Kyrgyzstan’s Ministry of Health, a team of WHO experts conducted a mission on 11–15 July 2016 to assess the national hepatitis response, including the existing policy and governance environment, available data and information systems, laboratory capacity, testing and treatment infrastructure, human resource capacity, drug and diagnostic supply, and medicine costing and access.
Kyrgyzstan is one of the focus countries for viral hepatitis in the WHO European Region, due to the high burden of infections, the commitment of national stakeholders and the interest of the Ministry of Health. WHO estimates that around half a million people with chronic hepatitis B and 100 000 people with chronic hepatitis C are living in Kyrgyzstan; the burden of liver cancer, mostly due to chronic hepatitis, is also significant.
The mission team visited 13 institutions to interview more than 35 clinicians, public health professionals, researchers, university professors, laboratory staff, and representatives of civil-society and partner organizations. The team also met the working group developing the national strategy on viral hepatitis and key experts who are reviewing the clinical guidelines for its care and treatment.
The mission acknowledged Kyrgyzstan’s achievements in controlling hepatitis B through universal birth dose vaccination, implemented in the country since 2000. The team also recognized the work done on normative guidance on blood safety and infection control. The mission team presented a summary of the findings and key recommendations for national planning and improvement of the comprehensive response to viral hepatitis to the Minister of Health and his team, who welcomed them, in a briefing meeting on the last day of the visit.
Global goal: elimination of hepatitis by 2030
Viral hepatitis is a global public health threat. The World Health Assembly recognized this in May 2016 by adopting the first global health-sector strategy for viral hepatitis, with the vision of eliminating the disease as a public health threat by 2030. The 66th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe will consider the first action plan on hepatitis for the European Region in September 2016.
Many countries increasingly focus on preventing and treating hepatitis infections by developing national strategies or action plans and strengthening their response. WHO assists by developing guidelines and operational manuals and by providing technical assistance on request.