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2 September 2015, 07:14
Patients, health ministers and medical experts will discuss global efforts to tackle viral hepatitis at a ground-breaking summit in Glasgow today.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) event is being staged at the SECC over three days in response to last year's World Health Assembly resolution calling for action to reverse the rising death toll from various strains of the disease.
Viral hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver which can cause short-term or acute infection.
There are five different hepatitis viruses, from A to E, with hepatitis B and C potentially leading to life-threatening complications such as cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer.
It kills 1.4 million people every year and has become the seventh biggest annual killer around the world, experts said.
The summit will discuss the draft WHO global health sector strategy which aims to achieve a 90% reduction in new cases of chronic hepatitis B and C and a 65% reduction in hepatitis B and C deaths by 2030.
The Scottish Government will also update its sexual health and blood borne virus framework during the summit, with aims to eliminate hepatitis C as a public health concern in Scotland, and also increase annual treatment targets for hepatitis C across the country.
Health Secretary Shona Robison said: "I am delighted that Scotland is once again opening its doors to the world to host the first-ever World Hepatitis Summit.
"I can think of no better location than a country which has been recognised as a world leader in our approach to tackling hepatitis C.
"The innovation of new therapies for hepatitis C is a watershed moment for viral hepatitis and we have recognised the importance of this by increasing our national treatment targets for the disease.
"We must also not lose focus on the vital issue of prevention of disease.
"Scotland will continue to invest in prevention initiatives and this must be a central part of any national and international plan.''
Charles Gore, president of the World Hepatitis Alliance, said: "We already have almost all the tools needed to eliminate viral hepatitis. What we don't have yet is the commitment, the know-how and the funding to use these tools.
"This summit is about empowering countries to take the practical steps needed at a national level; it is about how to take a vision and make it happen.''