Globally, there are more than 70 million people living with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV), which causes significant morbidity and mortality as it can lead to liver damage, liver cancer and liver failure. Within the World Health Organization (WHO) Eastern Mediterranean region alone, there is an estimated 15 million people living with HCV.1
In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which called for significant action to combat viral hepatitis − raising its profile as a public health issue. In 2016, the World Health Assembly adopted the first global health sector strategy on viral hepatitis, setting targets for the elimination of viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030. The strategy was endorsed by 194 countries, including Kuwait.
With approved screening and diagnostic tests as well as the advent of direct acting antivirals that can cure ≥95% of patients with HCV with easy to administer and highly tolerable treatment regimens, we have the biomedical tools to eliminate HCV. Despite this, only 12 of the 194 countries that endorsed the WHO global health sector strategy are on track to reach the WHO elimination targets.2
The EASL International Liver Foundation works with countries to support their progress towards viral hepatitis elimination. As such, the foundation convened key Kuwaiti experts and stakeholders in a half-day expert panel meeting with the main aim of identifying the successes, gaps, and barriers to HCV elimination in Kuwait and to determine unified recommendations to facilitate and expedite elimination in the country.
In support of the WHO global health sector strategy on viral hepatitis for 2016-2021 and the Eastern Mediterranean regional action plan for the implementation of global health sector strategy on viral hepatitis 2017-2021 and consistent with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and the WHO universal health coverage framework, this report presents expert recommendations to empower Kuwait to fast-track HCV elimination.